Dr. Dolittle (1998) Movie Poster Image

Dr. Dolittle (1998)

This gimmicky animal tale is crude but funny.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The message ("be who you are and love who you are") is lost amid the crude humor.

Positive role models

In some scenes, Dolittle is unkind to animals: He shouts at a dog and briefly ignores the animals' pleas for medical attention.


The rat characters keep goading each other into a fist fight. A rat nearly dies on the operating table. A woman with an allergic reaction to shellfish visits Dolittle's office with horrifically puffed-up eyes (her bruised posterior is also featured).


Much of the film contains mildly raunchy material, including double entendres and sexual innuendo -- expect jokes about a thermometer going into a dog's rear end, and a pigeon preferring "orange breasts."


At one point Dolittle quickly utters "s--t," and there are many almost-curses that are cut off. Several uses of "ass." Jokes involve excretion, flatulence, and urination; countless gags center around animals' "butts." The terms "crap" and "nooky" are also utilized.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this crude but funny Eddie Murphy vehicle lifts the name and basic concept from Hugh Lofting's famous stories about a man who can "talk to the animals." An enormous amount of sophomoric humor -- innuendo, potty humor, iffy language -- involving the good doctor's animal patients is added to the mix. Because many of the jokes include toilet humor and crude references to the human body, parents may want to decide whether or not they feel comfortable with this type of content for younger kids, though those children will certainly be charmed by the animal characters. Older kids will enjoy the jokes, but parents may still wish to exercise discretion, due to the nature of the humor, which includes innuendo and some language ("ass," and one use of "s--t").

What's the story?

John Dolittle (Eddie Murphy), an upwardly mobile San Francisco doctor, only wants the best for his wife and two daughters. One night driving home, Dolittle swerves away from a dog, and is subsequently gifted with a unique ability: he can "hear" the thoughts of any animal he encounters. John ignores the upcoming sale of his clinic to a conglomerate in order to care for the injured and sick animals who invade his house and office, having heard of his gift. After a stay in a mental institution, John avoids the animals completely, but his humanitarian instincts soon reemerge. On the night of the big press conference that will announce the sale of his clinic, Dolittle must perform an operation on a sick circus tiger. The operation is a success, and John's family accepts his peculiar "talent." The sale of the clinic is cancelled; henceforth, Dolittle will treat animals and humans.

Is it any good?


This gimmicky talking animal-comedy contains numerous mildly scatological jokes, some of which are actually amusing, thanks to a talented voice-cast. Unexceptionally directed, with unimpressive songs on the soundtrack. The star-studded voice cast brightens up the proceedings, with Norm MacDonald and Chris Rock trading on their popularly-established personas, and other comic actors (Albert Brooks, John Leguizamo, Jenna Elfman) affecting colorful tones for their animal alter-egos.

The moment when two nebbishy pigeons (voiced by Garry Shandling and Julie Kavner) discuss the male pigeon's impotence is clearly meant to amuse adult viewers -- who will have long since tuned out or left the room, having been numbed by the chronic repetition of animal-rear-end jokes. DR. DOLITTLE's message ("be who you are and love who you are") is lost amid the crude humor. Similarly, Dolittle's transition from money-hungry yuppie to altruistic animal-lover is unconvincing, due to sloppy scripting and the fact that Murphy is still a better comedian than he is an actor.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the adult themes depicted in this movie, such as insanity, death and greed.

  • Families can also talk about what they think it would be like to be able to talk to animals. Do you think that would be fun?

  • Would you say to an animal if it could talk?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 2, 2003
DVD/Streaming release date:September 2, 2003
Cast:Eddie Murphy, Peter Boyle, Raven Symone
Director:Betty Thomas
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:toilet humor

This review of Dr. Dolittle (1998) was written by

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Kid, 10 years old July 15, 2010


some language that i don't think is very good for the age csm says. 2 uses if the s-word they are both muttered(with headphones on full you can hear the second one) the most frequent word is a*s some other milder stuff. some younger kids may get upset because theres a tiger that wants to kill himself. the operation at the end is mildly intense you can see a bit of the open head. a man is punched in the face and is hit in the nose with a door. a funny movie but not for people over 9.
Parent of a 5 year old Written byHGlomer79 February 4, 2011

Additional language used in movie but not mentioned.

Another word that is used frequently but not mentioned in the language section of the review is "A$$". The word "[email protected]" was also used.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 8 and 9 year old Written byLonghornmom August 4, 2009

better for kids over 10 with the language

The language in this movie is not appropriate for 8+, as indicated. We watched this movie and were very surprised by the language. The Sh word at least once, I believe "Hel." and "Da.." a couple of times and Ass was said multiple times, so it was hard to justify that it would just go over their heads. I did not realize this movie was PG-13 since the review recommended 8+. I don't know why movies that would otherwise be good family movies have to have inappropriate language. It was not the worst ever, but just not appropriate and necessary so I agree with a rating closer to at least 10 or 11 and up!
What other families should know
Too much swearing