Dr. Dolittle (1998 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Betty Thomas|
|Based on||Doctor Dolittle|
by Hugh Lofting
|Music by||Richard Gibbs|
|Edited by||Peter Teschner|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$294.4 million|
Dr. Dolittle (also written as Doctor Dolittle) is a 1998 American fantasy dark comedy film directed by Betty Thomas, written by Larry Levin and Nat Mauldin, and starring Eddie Murphy in the titular role. The film was based on the series of children's stories of the same name by Hugh Lofting, but used no material from any of the novels; the main connection is the name and a doctor who can speak to animals, although the pushmi-pullyu, a much-loved feature of the books, notably makes a very brief appearance in a couple of scenes.
The first novel, The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920) had originally and previously been filmed in 1967 as a musical of the same name, which was a closer (albeit still very loose) adaptation of the book. The 1967 film was a box office bomb, but became a cult classic, while the 1998 version of the film was a box office success, and was received warmly by audiences who praised its humor and thematic profundity. It has become a cult classic in recent years due to Murphy's performance, despite receiving mixed reviews from film critics upon release. The film's success generated one theatrical sequel, Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), and three spin-offs: Dr. Dolittle 3 (2006), Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief (2008), and Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts (2009), all being direct-to-video.
As a child, in 1968, John Dolittle displays an ability to talk to and understand animals, starting with his own dog. John asks his dog questions like: "Why do dogs sniff each other's butts?"; the dog's response is that it's their own way of shaking hands and he does it when meeting his new principal. However, his behavior distracts his father, Archer. Archer hires a local priest to perform an exorcism on John in order to remove the "devil" from him, but during the exam, the dog bites and attacks the man, therefore resulting in Archer sending the dog away. Following this ordeal, John eventually stops talking to animals.
Thirty years later in 1998, John becomes a doctor and a surgeon, while living in San Francisco, California. He is happily married to his wife Lisa, and has two daughters, typical teenager Charisse, and nerdy Maya, who has a pet guinea pig named Rodney, and what she believes is a swan egg, which she hopes will bond with her upon hatching. A large medical company owned by Mr. Calloway seeks to buy John's practice, a deal in which one of his colleagues, Dr. Mark Weller, is enthusiastic about. Their other colleague, Dr. Gene Reiss, is skeptical about the deal due to the potential of downsizing patients and staff.
John's family goes on vacation, but he goes back to work to see a patient, and then pick up Rodney. Unfortunately, on his way home, he accidentally nearly hits a dog with his SUV, causing the dog to shout at him in anger. Afterwards, Rodney starts talking to John, causing him to believe he is having a mental breakdown. John has a CT scan after animals start asking for favors when he helps a wounded owl, and he then unwittingly adopts the dog he ran over, eventually naming him Lucky. John starts secretly helping various animals, including a suicidal circus tiger named Jake, who suffers great cerebral vein. Through all this, John begins learning to re-appreciate his gift, at one point confiding to both Lucky and Mark that he has never felt excited about his work in years. However, Lisa and Mark catch him performing CPR on a rat, and have him sectioned in a mental hospital.
Believing his gift is a hindrance, John rejects all abnormality in his life and returns to work, but in doing so, ostracizes Maya as well, who comes to believe he doesn't like her. Maya admits to Archer that she liked the idea of her father talking to animals. However, John has a change of heart when he eavesdrops on the conversation. He admits to Maya that he does like her for who she is, and encourages her to continue being what she wants to be. John then apologizes to Lucky, and together, they steal Jake from the circus to perform surgery on him. Mark and Gene catch John, but Gene is sympathetic of the former's opportunistic attitude. Archer reveals to Lisa that John's gift is real, encouraging her to venture into the operating theatre and keep Jake calm while John and Gene remove the cause of pain, saving Jake's life.
- Eddie Murphy as Dr. John Dolittle
- Raymond Matthew Mason as 3-year-old John
- Dari Gerard Smith as 5-year-old John
- Ossie Davis as Grandpa Archer Dolittle
- Oliver Platt as Dr. Mark Weller
- Peter Boyle as Mr. Calloway
- Kristen Wilson as Lisa Dolittle
- Kyla Pratt as Maya Dolittle
- Raven-Symoné as Charisse Dolittle
- Jeffrey Tambor as Dr. Fish
- Richard Schiff as Dr. Gene "Geno" Reiss
- Steven Gilborn as Dr. Sam Litvack
- June Christopher as Diane
- Paul Giamatti (uncredited) as Blaine Hammersmith
- Don Calfa (uncredited) as Patient at Hammersmith
- Pruitt Taylor Vince (uncredited) as Patient at Hammersmith
- Norm MacDonald as Lucky the Dog
- Royce Applegate as 'I love you' Dog
- Albert Brooks as Jacob "Jake" the Tiger
- Hamilton Camp as Pig
- Jim Dean as Spanish-Speaking Orangutan
- Ellen DeGeneres as Prologue Dog
- Jeff Doucette as Opossum
- Brian Doyle-Murray as Old Beagle
- Chad Einbidnder as Bettleheim the Cat
- Jenna Elfman as Owl
- Eddie Frierson as Skunk
- Gilbert Gottfried as Compulsive Dog
- Archie Hahn as Heavy Woman's Dog
- Phyllis Katz as Goat
- Julie Kavner as Female Pigeon
- John Leguizamo as Rat #2
- Jonathan Lipnicki as Tiger Cub
- Kerrigan Mahan as Penguin
- Philip Proctor as Drunk Monkey
- Paul Reubens as Raccoon
- Chris Rock as Rodney the Guinea Pig
- Reni Santoni as Rat #1
- Garry Shandling as Male Pigeon
- Tom Towles as German Shepherd
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||June 16, 1998|
|Genre||Hip hop, R&B|
|Producer||Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, The Legendary Traxster, Various|
|Dr. Dolittle soundtracks chronology|
|Singles from Dr. Dolittle|
The soundtrack was released on June 16, 1998 through Atlantic Records and consisted of a blend of hip hop and contemporary R&B. The soundtrack was a huge success, peaking at 4 on both the Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and was certified 2× Multi-Platinum on October 20, 1998. Allmusic rated the soundtrack four stars out of five.
The soundtrack's only charting single, "Are You That Somebody?" by Aaliyah, also found success, making it to 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and received a nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.
- "That's Why I Lie" – 4:51 (Ray J)
- "Let's Ride" – 4:53 (Montell Jordan and Shaunta)
- "Are You That Somebody?" – 4:27 (Aaliyah)
- "Same Ol' G" – 4:21 (Ginuwine)
- "Lady Marmalade" (Timbaland Remix) – 4:03 (All Saints)
- "Da Funk" – 4:29 (Timbaland)
- "Do Little Things" – 5:09 (Changing Faces and Ivan Matias)
- "Your Dress" – 3:59 (Playa)
- "Woof Woof" – 4:11 (69 Boyz)
- "Rock Steady" – 3:05 (Dawn Robinson)
- "In Your World" – 4:50 (Twista and Speedknot Mobstaz)
- "Lovin' You So" – 3:35 (Jody Watley)
- "Dance" – 3:38 (Robin S. and Mary Mary)
- "Push 'Em Up" – 3:46 (DJ Toomp, Eddie Kane and Deville)
- "Ain't Nothin' but a Party" – 3:57 (The Sugarhill Gang)
On its opening weekend, Dr. Dolittle earned $29,014,324 across 2,777 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #1 at the box office, the best debut for a Fox film that week. By the end of its run, the film had grossed $144,156,605 in the United States and $150,300,000 internationally, totaling $294,456,605 worldwide.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 42% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 52 reviews, with an average rating of 5.2/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Doctor Dolittle finds some mirth in the novelty of wisecracking critters, but this family feature's treacly tone is made queasy by a reliance on scatological gags that undercut the intended warmth." Metacritic reports a weighted average score of 46 out of 100 based on 20 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Dr. Dolittle was released on Laserdisc and VHS on November 24, 1998, DVD on August 3, 1999 and Blu-ray disc on March 18, 2014.
- "DR DOLITTLE (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. July 1, 1998. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- "Dr. Dolittle (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- "Dr. Dolittle (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
- "Dr. Dolittle Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- Dr. Dolittle Million Dollar Mutts on IMDb
- Allmusic review
- "Nine Things We'll Never Forget About Aaliyah". Retrieved October 7, 2010.
- "Dr. Dolittle Box Shot for PlayStation 2 - GameFAQs". www.gamefaqs.com. Retrieved 2016-07-13.