Animal Attraction

This doctor makes house calls.

The doctor who lends his ears to animals is back - and he's up against the forest wall. Add an angst-ridden teenage daughter, a bunch of ruthless loggers, and a goofy bear, and you have a recipe for comic disaster. Unfortunately, this dish comes out half-baked.

The movie starts off with Dr. Dolittle (Murphy) being portrayed as a world-famous celebrity and animal expert. But, with all his myriad patients, he has little time for his family, especially his teenage daughter. Things just get worse when he has to cancel a promised trip to Europe because some insistent animals force him to travel into a nearby forest to deal with their problem. Which reveals itself to be a logging company which wants to chop down the entire forest.

The only solution: prove that the forest is the sanctuary of an endangered species. In this case, it turns out to be a specific kind of bear, of which a female resides in the forest. Against his will, Dolittle is dragged into the rescue operation and has to find a male of the species and succesfully pair the two bears together in just one month.

However, that's just the beginning. The male bear turns out to be a performing mishap named Archie, with a penchant for the easy life. So, the good doctor moves base and family to the woods to start an intense training regimen for Archie. Meanwhile, he's also trying to keep his daughter away from the over-eager arms of a young stud. But the scheming loggers manage to get the courts to sway the verdict in their favour - which is when the animals embark on their final assault. And, in the end, everything turns out just fine...obviously.

The story has a decent plot, but it's pushed beyond the limits of being entertaining. After the opening gambit, everything gets prolonged and a trifle hackneyed. Murphy tries hard to pull the film along, but he looks tired and the gags just aren't funny enough. The others fill in the gaps, but there's no brilliance (and none was really expected). The setting is beautiful, but again too little is seen of it as compared to the misadventures of the dcotor and his furry friends. The finale was inventive, though a little farfetched; it would have had more impact if it had been fleshed out properly.

All in all, a decent effort, so long as you don't compare it to the previous film. Worth a look-see during a particularly long day.

This article was first published on20 Nov 2001.