Fox // 2008 // 87 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 5th, 2009
Lucky goes to Hollywood.
The next exciting installment in the Dr. Dolittle franchise finds the Doc's animal-whispering daughter taking center stage, along with a dog voiced by Norm MacDonald. He must be seriously hurting for a paycheck.
Maya Dolittle (Kyla Pratt) is all set to attend veterinary school, until she realizes it will take seven years of academic work and residency before she can start opening the chest cavities of dogs and jamming metal utensils into their internal organs. Frustrated by the interminable wait, she opts for a different path. Using her animal-talking abilities, she heads to Hollywood to begin a reality show with the world's most famous heiress.
Conflicts arise, when she finds the increasingly oppressive LA atmosphere distracting to her love of helping animals. Worse, a sleazy talent agent has her firmly in his clutches, through a shifty contract. You know what that means: he's going to be chased by wise-cracking monkeys!
Look, this movie was about as entertaining to me as a stomach pump, but being the objective film critic I play on the Internets, I did some targeted demographic research and lent Million Dollar Mutts to my neighbors. They have two children -- an eight-year old boy and a five year-old girl -- and after they watched it, I caught up with them to gauge their reactions. I have changed their names, to protect them from peer insults.
Dave: So, did you guys like this movie?
Mikey and Millie: Yes.
Dave: What did you like best about it?
Mikey (pointing to the picture of the small dog on the cover): He was funny.
Millie: Yeah, he was funny.
Dave: Have you seen the other Dr. Doolittle movies?
Mikey and Millie: Yeah.
Dave: How does this one rank?
Mikey: I liked it better than the first one, but I like the second one more.
Dave: So what best describes how you felt about this movie: You didn't like it, you liked it, or you loved it?
Mikey: Liked it.
Millie: Liked it.
There you go. Real, empirical data. Sure the conversation wasn't overflowing with in-depth critical reaction, but that was the best I could do. They were packed up in the back seat, ready to go on vacation, playing around with a car vacuum cleaner. It's a small miracle they didn't tell me to @#$% off.
For my part, Million Dollar Mutts has few moments of wit, but the humor was designed specifically to appeal to young kids and pre-teens (there's mild romance and a nice amount of potty humor). The visual effects were pretty good though. I fully bought that these animals were moving their mouths and uttering syllables.
The high-def picture is attractive, representing an effective upgrade in visual fidelity over "that other format." This being a light-heard kiddie romp set in Hollywood you can expect a vibrant color palette, and the 1.78:1 widescreen transfer delivers the goods, rendering a clean, forceful picture that's pleasing to the eye. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is subdued because of the feature content, but crisp and clear nonetheless. Extras are disappointing: three small, low-impact behind-the-scenes featurettes focusing on the animals, the location, and the general making-of.
Disposable mediocrity, thy name is Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts, but the kiddos seem to dig it so what more can I say? The technical merits of the Blu-ray are strong.
Guilty, I guess, but no one cares.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG