Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this straight-to-DVD film is entertaining and heartfelt family fare, reinforcing a healthy skepticism about celebrity and pushing education as a better long-term plan. The main character's dad is out of the picture on a research trip, but she has a solid relationship with her mom, and only gets in trouble when she ignores her instincts. A dog gets sick but recovers.
What's the story?
DR. DOOLITTLE: MILLION DOLLAR MUTTS is the third in the straight-to-DVD series leaving Dr. Doolittle himself out of the picture and featuring instead his daughter Maya (Kyla Pratt), who has inherited the family gift for talking to animals. Maya is all set to start veterinary school but balks at the thought of spending seven years studying before she can help animals. She's given a chance to make a quicker impact in the form of a reality show called Animal Talkers, in which she'll star with celebutante Tiffany Monaco (Tegan Moss). But when Maya's vision of using the show to help animals is at odds with the commercial realities of Hollywood, she has to decide how best to achieve her goal.
Is it any good?
Each iteration of the Dr. Doolittle series has given the Maya Doolittle character a chance to mature, and in this movie she is truly a stellar role model for girls. She's smart and -- after learning from a few bad decisions -- understands why education is a priority. She is polite to everyone who she meets, human or animal, and consequently is liked by nearly everyone she encounters. She has a great relationship with her mom, and apologizes when she makes mistakes. And Pratt is a beautiful, healthy girl without being scarily thin -- something that the down-to-earth love interest Brandon (Brandon Jay McClaren) seems to appreciate.
But don't get the idea that this is a preachy or treacly film. Those positive messages are easily woven into a straightforward plot that even young kids can follow, and the funniest lines are given to the talking turtles, snakes, and dogs that are in every scene. An extended riff on Hollywood celebrities and their pets, including a tough rapper named Ridiculuz (Doron Bell) and his pet rabbit Mr. Fluffernufferman, should have even older kids laughing.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the difference between having talent and having training. Maya's family gift -- the ability to talk to animals -- only gets her so far in her goal to help animals; did that come as a surprise?
Someone observes that Tiffany has photo opportunities, not friends. Do you think her celebrity plays a part in that?