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Dr. Dolittle 2 Reviews

Ethnic and homophobic slurs in a family film? Eddie Murphy's Dr. Dolittle series is now two-for-two. First the G-word was used to refer to Italians in DR. DOLITTLE (1998), and now "fairy" is used to impugn a character's masculinity in its sequel. This shameful lapse blights what is otherwise an amusing comedy based on the hero of Hugh Lofting's books, a doctor who can communicate with animals. San Francisco physician John Dolittle (Murphy) has become so famous he makes TV appearances alongside croc-hunter Steve Irwin. And the animals? They flock to him. His clients include Joey the Racoon (voice of Michael Rapaport), capo to the God Beaver (voice of Richard C. Sarafian) who makes Dolittle an offer he can't refuse: Save their forest from a clear-cutting timber company. When Dolittle's attorney-wife Lisa (Kristen Wilson) learns the forest is home to the last female of an endangered species of bear, a judge allows Dolittle one month to accompany the last known male of the species into the wild and have them propagate. That male, however, is Archie (voice of Steve Zahn), a happy circus bear who brags of his years studying theater and dance. But in the woods, he's such a fish out of water he can't so much as get a fish out of the water. Worse, after finally agreeing to woo Amy (voice of Lisa Kudrow), Archie finds he isn't quite up to the task at hand. Muddying matters are a cartoonish timber-company CEO (Jeffrey Jones) and his lawyer (Kevin Pollak), and a go-nowhere subplot involving Dolittle's elder daughter Charisse (Raven-Symoné) and her boyfriend (smooth standout Lil' Zane). As is typical for many Murphy movies, the female characters get the worst of it — Lisa and Charisse both come off as spoiled, petulant brats — but the film is amusing as long as the critters do all the talking. The animals — a mix of animatronics, CGI, costumes and nature footage — are often hilarious in broad, farcical ways that play off human stereotypes (sometimes a little too close the edge of racial offensiveness for comfort) and familiar situations (Archie finds himself in a "Scared Straight" bit with two other bears in a jail cell). There's surprisingly little potty humor this time around (except for one scene that provides a new answer to the rhetorical question, "Does a bear defecate in the woods?") and overall it's a funny film, but parents should decide if the anti-gay and misogynist elements are worth the laughs.