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"This film supports my belief that spiritual, inspirational messages come in all cinematic packages."

 

Raymond Teague is the author of Reel Spirit: A Guide to Movies That
Inspire, Explore and Empower
, from Unity House. 

He is an award-winning
journalist, an editor of spiritual publications, a popular New Thought
speaker, and a lifelong movie buff. 

His book is available by clicking the "Buy the Book" link above or by clicking here.

  Raymond Teague, 
"Reel Spirit" Movie Reviews

Dr. Dolittle 2
(2001, 88 minutes, PG)

The greatest thing about Dr. John Dolittle (Eddie Murphy) isn't really that he talks to animals and understands them, although that is certainly impressive.

It's that he listens to them - really listens to them - and helps them. Dr. Dolittle is a kind, giving, caring man who walks his animal talk. In Murphy's first Dr. Dolittle movie (1998) and in this sequel, these qualities are what make the doctor an inspirational role model.

Since this is definitely a movie that children are enjoying, it is nice to think that they may be receiving some subliminal instructions about how to react, not only to animal needs, but also to human needs.

Praises for Dr. Dolittle's disposition are given at the first of the film by his dog, Lucky, who says that Doc always found time to help animals, no matter how busy he got. "He was especially good at matters of the heart," Lucky says.

Dr. Dolittle does indeed react from the heart in caring for his family, especially his 16- year-old daughter Charisse, and in responding to an emergency in the animal kingdom.

The emergency is the imminent destruction of the forest home of many animals by a logging company. "It's man against nature," says the Beaver, a Godfather-type character who leads the animals and, curiously, gives a vaguely Jesus-like description of himself as "just a simple fisherman who's blessed with many friends."

Dr. Dolittle jumps on an endangered species issue to save the forest. A female bear of an endangered species lives in the forest, so Dr. Dolittle intends to introduce a male bear into the forest so that the forest will be protected as an official habitat of the species. The veterinarian has his hands full, because the bear of choice is a professional circus performer named Archie who doesn't have experience being in the wild or being with a female.

Dr. Dolittle, whose motto seems to be "Never give up hope," is a powerful motivating force for Archie. He tells Archie, "All these animals are depending on you . . . You can do this. Just listen to your inner bear."

Again, Dr. Dolittle is serving as a valuable role model for children, teaching them to rely on their innate emotional and spiritual strength. Dr. Dolittle is called upon to motivate all the forest animals and to encourage them to believe in their inner strength. "You guys have enormous untapped powers," he says. "Just don't give up without a fight." The result, an animal response felt around the world, is yet another testament to the power of individuals (in this case animals - but it applies to humans too) joined together for a common good -- specifically, saving the environment and protecting animals.

Dr. Dolittle 2 can be included in a long list of movies that champion preservation of the environment and animals, and the doctor himself represents the connection that we all have, but perhaps don't fully acknowledge or explore, with nature and all life.

This film supports my belief that spiritual, inspirational messages come in all cinematic packages. Here we have an enjoyable, average film with a lot of crude humor (especially of the bathroom type) but it also has inspiring characters and situations.

Dr. Dolittle 2 perhaps gives an intentional nod to an inspirational classic, It's a Wonderful Life, by having the villain of the story, the head of the logging company, named Potter (played by Jeffrey Jones). Potter is the last name of the "evil" banker in It's a Wonderful Life, one of the greatest movies ever made about the importance of appreciating life and our value to each other.

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