One of the more distressing trends in movies today is the sequelization of...well, just about anything. It seems like every other week, another direct-to-video sequel to a movie with a cast of no-namers. This time around, we get another "Dr. Dolittle", although this time it's without Eddie Murphy (it's explained that the doctor is off in the Arctic or something like that.)
This time around, Maya (Kyla Pratt) - Dolittle's daughter - is the focus. She's having difficulty getting into an elite college and, when the secret service comes calling because of trouble with the president's dog, she thinks that a recommendation from the White House will result in her being a shoe-in for the school.
When Maya arrives at the White House, she finds an upset President (Peter Coyote, looking rather embarassed and I can't say I blame him), desperate for help in trying to correct a dog that, according to him, stands as some sort of symbol for the administration (not saying much about the administration...oh wait.) and training the dog will also somehow smooth things over with an African nation where there was an incident with the President during a treaty signing. Daisy the dog has been wrecking the White House and wastes no time in tearing up the President's wildlife ranch when Maya and the President head to the retreat.
Of course, the animals don't cooperate - and, it's not exactly surprising that Maya manages to fix (in an emotional way, I mean) both Daisy and the President's upset (due to the fact that her days are made-up largely of press events and other "dull" happenings) daughter. The film's humor is pretty bland slapstick along the lines of most kiddie films - yes, there's the occasional bathroom joke - but the positive messages of wildlife conservation are delivered in a way that's not too heavy-handed.
The performances are decent, considering the forgettable material. Pratt is really the best element of the film, as her performance remains rather charming throughout. Norm McDonald, who (unfortunately, because I think he's funny) probably didn't have much else going on, takes the voice role of Lucky the Dog for the fourth time.
Quite simply, this is average, unoffensive fare for kids. While Pratt offers a very good performance given the material, there's just not enough movie here (the story is very slight) to make this worth recommending as more than a rental for kids.
VIDEO: "Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The screening copy of the film that was provided offered somewhat subpar image quality, with below average sharpness/detail and some occasional mild artifacting and edge enhancement. However, this is still not the final copy and unfortunately, I cannot make any final comments on it, as the retail copy may offer differing image quality.
SOUND: Despite being presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, I don't think it'll surprise anyone to hear that there's very little going on in this audio presentation. Surrounds offer some slight ambience and reinforcement of the score, but the audio is otherwise front-heavy (and not exactly spread widely across the front soundstage, either.) Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: A few short featurettes make up the extras section: "Critter Casting Sessions", "Working With Actors of a Different Breed", "Goin' Wild" and "Learning About Endangered Animals". Of the bunch, "Animals" is the most informative and interesting. Finally, we get an "Inside Look" promo for "Horton Hears a Who".
Final Thoughts: Pratt shines in the latest "Dr. Dolittle", but the rest of the movie - while well-intentioned in spots - is bland and blah when it comes to humor. A light rental recommendation for kids who were fans of the previous films.