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WEB EXCLUSIVE: “Dr. Dolittle 2” Hits Target Audience

“Dr. Dolittle 2″20th Century FoxDirected by Steve CarrProduced by John Davis, Joseph Singer Screenplay by Larry LevinStarring Eddie MurphyRated: PG3 (out of four)

“Dr. Dolittle 2” is filled with warm-hearted elements to keep the children entertained. It has a positive message about wildlife preservation, shows family values and even makes one of its several fart jokes educational by teaching about hibernation.

Of course, there isn’t too much thought in any of these elements.

Eddie Murphy returns to the title role as a world-famous veterinarian with a talent that allows him to talk to animals. As the film opens, Dolittle is a busy man. He’s in high demand to help animals around the world, and sometimes he gets to be on television to serve a screenwriter’s idea of a cameo.

As he returns home from a trip, a raccoon (voiced by Michael Rappaport) confronts him. The raccoon is on assignment to bring Dolittle to the forest for a meeting with a beaver.

The beaver is the Godfather of wildlife and wants to enlist Dolittle’s services to save the forest from a logging company that is going to chop all of it down. There are thousands of animals who will lose their homes if the doctor doesn’t stop the development.

In “The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,” Murphy impressively interacted with himself in several different roles. Here, he proves his talent again by acting with computer-enhanced animals and making both the communication and the characters seem real.

In the long tradition of outdoing “Mr. Ed,” these animals move their mouths when they speak. Logically, they don’t have to since Dolittle’s special talent allows him to hear what they’re saying even though they don’t speak Human, but it’s more fun this way.

The computers can only do so much, however. What really gives the animals life is the vocal talent.

Steve Zahn (“Happy Texas”) steals the show as the most important animal in the film. He is Archie, a circus bear who happens to be an endangered species. If Dolittle can reintroduce him to the wild and get him to mate with the wild female bear (Lisa Kudrow), then the logging company can’t come in.

Archie doesn’t want to be in the wild, though. It’s dirty and the food isn’t very good. He likes to perform and laze around. Dolittle has to convince him to adapt for love and for the sake of the forest.

Considering how little the bear’s facial expressions can be altered by a computer and still have a photo-realistic appearance, Zahn must be given credit for making Archie seem so real through his voicework.

While all the wildlife work is going on, the doctor is also trying to deal with his daughter’s (Raven Symone) new desire to date. He also doesn’t want to neglect his wife, Lisa Dolittle (Kristen Wilson).

The sinister loggers, played by Jeffrey Jones and Kevin Pollack, are just what is needed: sleazy, thoughtless, plotting slime balls. They aren’t developed and differ little from the bad guys in countless other movies.

They’re the people to root against, and8212;like everything else in the film8212;needn’t be taken too seriously.

Adults won’t find the throwaway gags and toilet humor of &Dr. Dolittle 2& as entertaining as the great family films from this year like “Spy Kids” and “Shrek” (the computer-animated film Murphy appeared in earlier this summer).

But “Dr. Dolittle 2” is always tolerable and often brings smiles. Every once in a while a laugh will even rise up as Archie sits, puzzled and stunned, while Dolittle tells him the rules of the wild.

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