DOCTOR DOLITTLE 2
In 1998, Dr. Dolittle delighted audiences young and old around the world with
its comic re-invention of Hugh Lofting's classic children's stories about a
kind-hearted doctor who has the ability to converse with animals. Eddie Murphy's
renowned comedic talents put a fun and edgy spin on the character, and the film
utilized state-of-the-art computer generated effects to give each of the animals
a unique personality.
The mix worked - beyond expectations. In a career marked by such landmark
comedy hits as 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop and The Nutty Professor, Dr. Dolittle
gave Eddie Murphy perhaps his greatest audience response. "Of all the
movies I've done, I get the most feedback on Dr. Dolittle," Murphy
comments. "No matter where I am - all over the world - kids and teens
would come up to me and say, 'Hey, Dr. D!'"
With that kind of success, it's no surprise that Murphy was approached to do
another Dolittle film. Murphy's own children were certainly another incentive
for him to revisit the role. "My kids loved my first Dolittle film so
much," he remembers. "The film reminded them and me of the old Bugs
Bunny cartoons, where people and animals all talk to each other. I think that's
part of the reason my kids, and young people all over the world, responded so
strongly to Dr. Dolittle."
Dr. Dolittle producer John Davis' family also responded strongly to the film.
"You're always happiest when your children come up to you and say, 'Dad, I
loved that movie, it was totally cool,'" Davis comments. "That's what
was most exciting for me about making that film."
Davis, Murphy and screenwriter Larry Levin (who co-wrote the 1998 Dolittle)
embraced the challenges and opportunities of following up the worldwide
phenomenon. Having introduced the characters three years earlier, they were now
able to expand the premise's comedic possibilities and examine how Dolittle's
talents affect his family and his animal friends. "Our first Dolittle was
about him realizing that he has the gift and how he comes to grips with
it," Murphy explains. "Now that the world knows he can talk to
animals, how is it going to change his relationship with his family, and how is
he going to use his special talents?"
"We knew we had to top our first Dr. Dolittle," adds John Davis.
"So the new film has a larger canvas, a bigger array of animals, and even
more special effects. We wanted a movie that was not only really funny, but also
had a heart and was about something."
To that end, Larry Levin, who has long been active in environmental causes,
fashioned a story about Dolittle coming to the aid of animals trying to protect
their wilderness home.
"Since we've already established the idea of talking animals, I thought
it would be interesting to explore the theme of the vanishing wilderness through
the point of view of these animals," Levin explains. He then came up with
Dolittle's plan of action to save the animals' home, and the comic possibilities
of a new "savior." "A circus bear is the least likely creature to
be 'rehabilitated,'" Levin points out. "So I created the character of
Archie, who's basically a performer who's used to playing small venues, but
wants to be a star." But Archie didn't plan on his new audience - a forest
full of skeptical animals - being this large.
To bring together the project's elements of humor, heart, and a larger scale,
Davis and Twentieth Century Fox turned to director Steve Carr, who had
impressed the Hollywood community with his award-winning video work and feature
directorial debut, the popular comedy Next Friday. Carr was in sync with Davis'
and Levin's take on the story. "We wanted the script to be written as if
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