I wish I could say Murphy stooped to conquer. The kids I saw Dr. Dolittle with did seem to be enjoying themselves, perhaps because the filmmakers throw so many fat jokes, butt jokes and fat-butt jokes their way. Like The Nutty Professor, Dr. Dolittle majors in scatology, with a minor in peace, love and understanding. The difference is that The Nutty Professor graduated with honors, whereas Dr. Dolittle all but flunks out of Comedy School. As the guy who talks to animals but doesn't want anybody to know he does, Murphy gives it the old college try, but he's been assigned the straight-man role to a box of Animal Crackers who embody ethnic stereotypes. I mean, is it pure coincidence that the rats are Puerto Rican?
The movie's special effects are well done, I suppose, but they're no substitute for creativity. Babe has set a new standard for talking-animal movies, whereas Dr. Dolittle seems whipped together in the computer lab--a state-of-the-art episode of "Mr. Ed." Why Murphy, who's one of the most talented comedians to come along in years, would want to get mixed up in this project is beyond me. ("Never work with kids or computer-generated animals," the old adage goes.) Who would have thought, 10 years ago, that Eddie Murphy would one day become Captain Kangaroo?