Can you talk to animals? Rex Harrison could in 1967. He was the titular character in the original filmic version of Dr. Dolittle. That film holds a special place in my heart, for where else could you see a two-headed llama known as the Pushme-Pullyu? It was a different era of movie-making, it was when movies such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins were fun and campy with big song and dance numbers.
Later, in 1998, came the Dolittle remake starring Eddie Murphy. Murphy's version attempted to modernize the character for younger audiences and succeeded in creating a franchise. It was followed in 2001 by Dr. Dolittle 2 and has continued to do well since.
In Dr. Dolittle 3, we saw Kyla Pratt's character, daughter Maya Dolittle, striking out in her own movie. Maya's Mom sent her to a Dude Ranch for the summer and she found herself fighting to save the ranch from foreclosure by talking a bunch of animals into helping at a rodeo.
Now, in Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts, Pratt is back as Maya and getting ready to enter the veterinary program at San Francisco University (SFU). However, when she learns that it will take her seven years to become a veterinarian, she's frustrated because she wants to make more of an immediate impact helping animals.
On a walk with Lucky, her dog (voiced by Norm MacDonald), she talks a cat out of a tree for its elderly owner and finds herself on the TV news as a local celebrity. Tiffany Monaco, celebrity debutante (played by Tegan Moss), sees Maya on TV while shopping nearby and recruits her aid to figure out what's wrong with her depressed dog, Princess.
From there, Tiffany takes Maya on a quick flight to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to help Princess. Along the way, Maya is smitten by a boy actor (Brandon Jay McLaren), encounters movie stars and rappers, and is snared by an agent who wants to take advantage of Maya's ability to speak to animals. She's attracted to the idea of being on television and helping more animals now instead of waiting seven years to become a vet.
As always, life proves that taking shortcuts isn't always for the best. Maya learns the hard way that she can't solve all animal problems by talking to them. Eventually she comes to her senses and goes to college.
I watched the movie with my two girls, ages four and eight, and they loved it. Mixing animals who can talk with fashion and the shiny nature of show business really makes this appealing to children, and it was pretty obvious that the movie was aimed squarely at girls.