For most of us, we thought it was a crime when Eddie Murphy hijacked the Dr. Dolittle brand back in 1998. He turned a classic into yet another assembly line crude humor product. The original material was carelessly sacrificed for the sake of another Eddie Murphy romp. Well, it was harmless enough, I suppose. But then the sequel and direct to video follow ups began. Eddie was out, and so were the fart jokes and other bodily function staples. Now after a couple of direct to video attempts we get Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts, and suddenly we actually miss Eddie Murphy.
The series of direct to video films has focused on Dolittle’s young daughter, Maya (Pratt). She also has her dad’s ability to talk to the animals. With each film we hear that the Doc is off around the world somewhere helping out some animals. In the latest outing, Maya wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and be able to help the animals she can speak to. She’s a couple of weeks from entering college with the ultimate goal of becoming a veterinarian. But she’s really not too happy with the 7 years of study she has before her. So, when she gets an opportunity to help out some animals now, she follows the dream. Enter reality star Tiffany (Moss). She’s a Paris Hilton clone complete with her pampered little dog. It appears that her pooch is feeling a little depressed of late. She comes to Maya to ask her to talk to her dog and see if she can help. So Maya flies to Hollywood where she instantly discovers two things: Tiffany’s princess is actually a prince, and there are a lot of temptations in the hip world of stars and lights. That includes star Brandon Turner (McLaren) who she immediately falls head over heels for. It turns out that Tiffany’s agent has been trying to get a Dolittle in his fold for years. So, he tempts Maya with a reality show where she can “help” celebrity animals. Of course, she has to learn that she can’t really help anybody just yet. Just being able to talk to them doesn’t mean she can help them.
Even if you can overlook the butcher job the story does to the Dolittle name, you just can’t avoid how bad the acting is here. You would expect that Kyla Pratt would be better at this since she’s had the role all the way back to the first Eddie Murphy film. The truth is, either her dialog is atrociously written, or she’s just that bad a performer. You gotta give child actors a break, but she just doesn’t deliver at all. It’s pretty bad when some of the animals are the best actors on the film. Tegan Moss has the Hilton style down perfectly, but unfortunately it just makes her character as annoying as the Hiltons of the world are in real life. In the end, I don’t think even your kids will enjoy this forced comedy. The jokes rely too heavily on physical antics or the occasional body functions. I gotta believe there’s better out there.
Million Dollar Mutts is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. You get a pretty standard 1080p image here brought to you through an AVC/MPEG-4 codec. Colors are pretty strong, and there’s a lot of eye candy for the kids. Detail is much higher than this kind of film actually requires. Black levels are above average.
The DTS-HD Master Audio clocks in at about 3.5 mbps of uncompressed audio. There isn’t much in the way of show off sound here. The mix is pretty much dialog driven, so you can expect everything to be front and center. The score is your usual hijinx music and doesn’t stand out one way or the other.
All of the features are in Standard Definition.
Tiffany’s Tricked Out Cell Phone: (4:35) Using a cell phone as a wraparound prop, this short feature delivers brief snippets on things like costumes and cast.
No Business Like Show Business: (7:56) Cast and crew talk about the film, offering some behind the scenes footage as well.
Star Tours Dolittle Style: (5:08) This feature offers a tour of the film’s locations.
Every time I get one of these things I get hopeful that I’ll at least get a cool dog ride for my trouble. I am a dog kind of guy, and we tend to watch all of these animal movies when they come out. Unfortunately, the title is misleading, and this story isn’t really about any dogs. While it’s true the script and production have gone to the dogs, I don’t mean that in a nice way. This one tried to put me to sleep too often to have enjoyed anything more than a couple of extra z’s. Skip it. “It wasn’t what I expected.”