Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
on December 15, 2009
"Doctor Dolittle" is one of those fun movies that kids and their parents can enjoy together, and it's a picture that people will want to watch again and again.
It follows the adventures of a man who can talk to animals. Dr. John Dolittle was an unhappy people doctor when he realizes his calling as a very happy animal doctor. Thanks to the help from his 188 year old parrot Polynesia the doctor learns the languages of animals and then proceeds to set up a veterinarian clinic in his home where scores of animals ... domesticated and wild ... come to him ... of their own accord ... to complain about their various ailments and then to be cured, always, by the good doctor.
As a result of some bad luck and a magistrate (judge) who seems to have a personal vendetta against the him, the doctor is, because of his talking to animals, deemed to be insane and is committed to an asylum. Not to worry though as the doctor's faithful parrot Polynesia orchestrates a jail break. Doctor Dolittle, his friend Matthew, Matthew's young friend Thomas, and a lady friend Emma then board the doctor's sailing ship and make good their escape from the law.
Being at sea allows the doctor to pursue the one overriding passion in his life: To find ... and talk to ... the legendary giant pink sea snail. This quest produces some fun, but it also gets our little crew into some trouble. The ending of the movie is, however, a happy and satisfying one.
If "Doctor Dolittle" is so good, why only 3 stars? Well, it's a solid piece of entertainment. It takes a great movie idea and fills it with good acting, good special effects, and songs and dancing that are mostly delightful and fun, but the writing is a culprit here. It lets us down.
It's good writing ... most of the time ... but it goes off course here and there and we are given scenes and dialogue (not the fantastic scenes and dialogue ... which are fun ... but the human nature type ones) that are hard to buy into, that is to say, hard to believe would ever happen.
Rex Harrison plays the articulate, urbane, and unflappable Doctor Dolittle, and he is his usual excellent self. Anthony Newley plays the doctor's friend and admirer Matthew, and he is a lot of fun as the wise-cracking Irishman. I love that quick-witted Irish sense of humor. Peter Bull plays the tag along boy ... the innocent youth of the movie. And Samantha Eggar starved herself to play Emma, and she does OK, but her character is not easy to like.
I don't know why movie makers do that, but they often make the female lead character be mean. Maybe they believe it will appeal to the women in the audience, but, whatever the reason, they do it here in "Doctor Dolittle" and it is hard to take and makes no sense at all.
The special effects in "Doctor Dolittle" work very well. It's hard to figure out how they are done and, for 1967, that's pretty good special effects work.
But there is a lot of fun to be had watching "Doctor Dolittle." It's a movie to be kept up front on the movie shelf so it can be easily gotten to.