Film / Dr. Dolittle

Dr. Dolittle is a 1998 comedy film starring Eddie Murphy as a doctor who has the ability to talk to animals. It is inspired by the Doctor Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting, but doesn't much resemble them.

A sequel, Dr. Dolittle 2, was released in 2001. There are also three more direct-to-video sequels in which the central character is Dr. Dolittle's daughter Maya, played by Kyla Pratt.

(For the 1967 film starring Rex Harrison, see Doctor Dolittle.)

This film series provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Dr. Dolittle tricks his wife, Lisa, into thinking he's bought her a fancy new sports car in order to make a point about her supposedly not caring about money. After admitting that, "no, actually, the van's around the corner," he does a breathless, girlish imitation of her excited "Oh, John, you didn't, you didn't!" Lisa tells him "That's not funny," but her facial expression and barely restrained laughter clearly indicate that she knows he got her good, even if she doesn't want to admit it out loud.
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Wild animals are casually comfortable around Dolittle.
  • An Aesop: "It's okay to be weird", for the first film.
  • Animal Gender-Bender: A pigeon with a female voice has the familiar feather coloration — which is a trait of male pigeons.
  • Animal Stereotypes: The animals' personalities are this, unless something else is required for the plot.
  • Animal Talk: At least they talk to Dolittle.
  • Ass Shove: Lucky's anus swallows a thermometer during a veterinarian's examination. It has to be "retrieved manually".
  • Bowdlerize Depending on the network airing the movie, the line "Throw the damn ball!" might have its expletive removed, and Dolittle's question about dogs sniffing each other may also be trimmed.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: The guinea pig:
    "You scared the crap out of me! See? There it is."
    • Though it's possible Rodney could have just been taking advantage of the opportunity to make a pun. Anyone who has ever owned a guinea pig will tell you that these creatures poop a lot.
  • Cats Are Mean: Discussed.
  • Cat Up a Tree: In Dr Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts, Maya Dolittle rescues an old lady's cat, but the cat refuses to leave the tree until the old lady stops giving him baths.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Rodney the guinea pig does not appear and is never mentioned again after the first movie.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive
  • Dead Man Walking: As a dog is being led away to be put down at the pound that Lucky's taken to, one of the dogs comments "dead dog walking."
  • Egg McGuffin
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Dolittle's dog does not tolerate Dolittle's son's failure at hot-or-cold.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Dr. Dolittle becoming this is part of the plot.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The orangutan in the first film, of whom Dr. Dolittle needs to prove that it can speak. It does end up speaking... Spanish.
  • Hollywood Chameleon: Subverted in Dr. Dolittle 2, with Papito the chameleon, who thinks he has the ability to blend completely into the background, but never can. At the end, Charisse paints a room completely green as a surprise for Papito, and it looks like he finally got his dream.
  • I Am Not Weasel
    Dr. Dolittle: I think we should get rid of Maya's little rat thing.
    Mrs. Dolittle: He's a guinea pig. I don't know why you let him get to you.
  • Insult Misfire: In the first movie:
    Pigeon, helping to defend Dolittle's operation against the police: Pigs go home. Pigs go home.
    A Pig, walking away in confusion: Huh?
    Pigeon: No, not you... the police.
  • Ironic Echo: In Dr. Dolittle 2 Dolittle tries to get an endangered bear to mate in order to save a forest. The Corrupt Corporate Executive tells him that won't happen so he makes an offer noting this way he can save face, won't have to admit he was wrong, and won't look like a fool. When Dolittle gets the animals to unite against him, he proposes they set up a meeting as it's the only way to save face, he won't have to admit he was wrong, and he'll get out of the situation without looking like an idiot.
  • Is That a Threat?: Dr. Dolittle 2:
    Dr. Dolittle: You're an endangered species!
    Archie: Is that a threat, buddy?
  • Jerkass: Mark Weller and Blaine Hammersmith
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dr. Dolittle
  • Motor Mouth: Rodney the guinea pig.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Archer realized his mistake thinking his son's Animal Talk is a disability, since he was afraid it would ruin his life. Now he sees it as a gift.
  • Name One: When the good doctor tries to convince a suicidal tiger that there are plenty of tigers in pop culture.
    Tiger: Okay, name one.
    Dolittle: ...
    Lucky: How 'bout Tony?
    Dolittle: Tony the cereal tiger?
    Lucky: What? I didn't hear you come up with anything.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Rodney the guinea pig ponders how he came to that name, since he's not a pig, and neither from Africa nor an Italian "guinea".
  • Not This One, That One: There's this exchange between John and Lisa:
    Dr. Dolittle: Lisa, the more money you have, the more time you can spend with your family. That's the way it boils down. that's true. And in the meantime, you're just gonna have to make do and be happy with this beautiful, fancy sports car you always wanted. Right here, beautiful.
    Lisa Dolittle: Oh, my God, John, you didn't!
    Dr. Dolittle: No, I didn't. The van's around the corner. But I saw how fluttered you got, so don't tell me you don't care about money. (starts mocking) "Oh, John, you didn't. You didn't."
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: The pound that Lucky's taken to, complete with Death Row tropes when a dog is taken to be put down.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When the doctor and Lucky the dog are trying to stop a tiger from leaping to his death, they note all of the great tigers. When asked to name one Lucky comes up with Tony the Tiger, while Dolittle points out how Rocky beat up Mr. T after hearing "Eye of the Tiger".
    • "Yeah, baby!"
    • "Hasta la vista, baby!"
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Dr. Dolittle.
  • Toilet Paper Trail: Lucky the dog leaves the bathroom in this manner.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Mis.Parkis, the woman who is deathly allergic to shellfish and yet she won't stop eating shellfish. She even thinks that it doesn't count as shellfish if she removes the fish from its shell before eating it. After the third time this has happened, note  Dr.Dolittle asks her if she has a death wish.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The two rats are explicitly not grateful to the good doctor after he saves one of them.
    Rat: You want gratitude? Get a hamster!
  • You Can Talk?: Dolittle and Rodney's reaction when they discover that the each of them can understand what the other is saying.
  • You Need a Breath Mint:
    Lucky barks next to Rodney.
    Rodney: You know, a Tic-Tac wouldn't kill ya.