Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief
Kyla Pratt, Peter Coyote, Elise Gatien
Directed by Craig Shapiro
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 2008
90 minutes

Dr. Dolittle Tail to the Chief is a great family DVD especially aimed at tween girls. The original Dr. Doolittle may be away on an exploration but the spirit of Eddie Murphy is alive and well in the fart and two bird poop jokes the movie indulges in. Otherwise, there is absolutely nothing the most difficult parent would object to. In fact it is kind of refreshing to see a straight to DVD movie that is not just there to milk the franchise and your wallet.

Maya Dolittle (Kyla Pratt, the real Doolittle daughter and a talented and very likeable actress) is college and veterinary school bound only if she can impress the people at the Dr. Dolittle School of Veterinary Sciences.  This will only happen if she can cure the President’s Leona Helmsley of a dog before an important meeting with a foreign dignitary who can create an animal sanctuary. There’s also the problem of the President’s unhappy daughter and an aid in competition with Maya for a cute guy’s heart.

Dr. Dolittle Tail to the Chief may be a straight to DVD movie but it is far superior to most such things. There are some pretty funny and original moments here such as when Maya meets the President’s menagerie for the first time and they get into a food fight. The agoraphobic groundhog and machine-gunning anteater are especially enjoyable. The animals to the rescue sequence is also fun, original, and well-made.

The movie gets a bit didactic about endangered species and so on when the President has a not particularly comforting talk with a self-doubting Maya but this is the kind of stuff only adults will notice. The other “lessons” such as confidence in yourself and the difficulty of living up to a parent’s expectations are, however, given with much more subtlety.

Extra features on Tail to the Chief are most appropriate and better than average There is a segment on the Mountain View Conservation Society that raises endangered species and releases them in the wild; a feature on endangered animals; something on casting the animals in this DVD; and something on working with these animals.


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