Hey, did you know they made a Dr. Dolittle sequel without Eddie Murphy? They did.
Just like they made a Bring It On sequel without Kirsten Dunst, a Pink Panther sequel without Peter Sellers, and a Smokey and the Bandit sequel without Burt Reynolds.
All of these sequels have one distinct thing in common, and "quality filmmaking" isn't among the available options. It's greed. Greed so powerful it makes perfectly sane people say things like "Hey, let's take that Eddie Murphy talking animals comedy that made so much money, and turn it into a cheap tweenie knock-off that feels like a summer camp rendition of City Slickers 2."
Dr. Dolittle 3 contains no trace of a Dr. Dolittle. Apparently Eddie Murphy was not interested in doing a Part 3 that's not called Shrek, which leaves the greedy sequel-mongers little recourse but Plan B.
Plan B involves hiring the actresses who played the mother (Kristen Wilson) and the daughter (Kyla Pratt) of the doctor, and then retrofitting the "talk to the animals" schtick into a whole new sort of story. In the case of the practically painful Dr. Dolittle 3, the new sort of story is this: 17-year-old Maya Dolittle is a spoiled little teen who yearns to be accepted by the cool crowd, but gets in trouble before being shipped off to a dude ranch retreat where she meets a tough girl called Brooklyn, a fat kid who loves food, a jittery spaz kid who falls down, a sweaty young hunk to drool over, and a barnyard full of ever-chattering animals. Oh, and the dude ranch is about to be foreclosed upon by the local sneering villains, and only the combined power of mean girl / fat kid / spazmo dweed / animal girl can win the $50,000 prize at the local rodeo, save the day, etc., and on and on. (I'd mention that John Amos plays the ranch owner, but out of respect for the actor, I won't.)
The stars of the voice-cast, by the way, are Norm McDonald, Gary Busey, and Danny Bonaduce.
Cheap-looking, atrociously written, and delivered with all the energy of a breach-birth bovine, Dr. Dolittle 3 is all kinds of terrible. It's not even remotely funny enough to please anyone over the age of 12, which means the target audience (which I can only assume is 16-year-old girls) will be rolling their eyes and yawning over the flick's omnipresent, like, corniness. As far as the younger kids go, they'll be bored to tears by the heaving 17-year-old chests, the lame physical comedy, and the painfully drab romantic subplot; the wacky animal activities, which I assume are a large part of this series' appeal, are pretty few and far between, come to think of it.
The flick also has two musical numbers in which kids get up and, instantly, know how to dance in fancy tandem. And then a monkey or a horse rides in and leads us to the next inept section, one that probably includes a fart joke or a passage in which the fat kid mentions food.
Video: Anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1), and the transfer looks fine -- even if the production value looks like a back yard. Apparently this is a 2-disc set, and disc 2 contains a full-frame version. Enjoy.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English & French) or 2.0 Spanish. Optional subtitles are available in the same three languages.
Director Rich Thorne (Walker, Texas Ranger) and leading lady Kyla Pratt sit down for a feature-length audio commentary, which I honestly meant to listen to, but I just this second opted for voluntary root canal.
There's also a 16-minute Making of Dr. Dolittle 3 that's full of bland cast interviews and limp commentary, and an 8-minute piece called Growing Up Dolittle, in which Ms. Pratt recounts her expansive career.
Rounding out the extras are a Dr. Dolittle 3 TV spot and a trailer for Little Manhattan.
If we're ever going to reverse the well-established belief that "all direct-to-video movies suck eggs," we're going to need someone to do better than Dr. Dolittle 3. Forgive it as mindless kiddie fare of you like, but I say your kids deserve something a little bit better than this.