Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief

Movie review by
Nancy Davis Kho, Common Sense Media
Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief Movie Poster Image
Famous vet's daughter finds her own way to shine.
  • PG
  • 2008
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Two strong themes play out in movie: trying harder when you've failed, and finding your own way of doing things. Given the title, the efforts made to save endangered animals and understand domestic ones should be no surprise. Occasional crude humor from talking animals.

Violence & Scariness

Animals pelt a human character with food and bird poop.

Sexy Stuff

Subtle flirtation between two characters.

Language
Consumerism

A bottle of Perrier water in a party shot.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An underage character sneaks out to a party where unsupervised kids drink what one presumes is beer from plastic cups.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this DVD is a funny, enjoyable family movie with good messages about overcoming failure and following your own instincts. Animal conservation gets center stage. Talking animals edge towards mild crudeness for laughs. The teenaged daughter of the president sneaks out to an unsupervised party where drinking takes place.

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What's the story?

The fourth in the Dr. Dolittle series and the second to be focused solely on youngest Dolittle daughter, Maya (Kyla Pratt), DR. DOLITTLE: TAIL TO THE CHIEF sticks to formula. This time Maya, whose famous dad is off in Antarctica, is looking for a way to beef up her college application to mythical San Francisco University's veterinary school. When the adorable pet dog of the president of the United States goes rogue, Maya gets her chance to prove herself, save an international wildlife treaty, and get the college recommendation letter of a lifetime. But Daisy (voiced by Jennifer Coolidge) isn't buying into Maya's borrowed veterinary techniques, and Maya has to find her own way to tackle the assignment she's been given.

Is it any good?

Animal-loving kids will likely be enchanted by scenes where Maya interacts with wise-cracking wild animals, particularly a saucy French monkey named Monkey. As in previous movies, Maya is helped by her sidekick dog Lucky (Norm MacDonald) who gets all the best lines in the movie. The president, played by Peter Coyote, is reassuringly compassionate and tough, though his relationships with his own daughter and dog are far from perfect. His pep talk to Maya when she is about to give up, about failure being a part of life, is a valuable lesson for parents to reinforce.

It's rare that a fourth installment of a movie franchise mines new ground, and in that sense Tail to the Chief delivers as expected. But the movie qualifies as entertaining fare appropriate for the whole family, and it underscores good parenting lessons.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Daisy the dog's behavior. Besides food and shelter, what responsibilities do pet owners have for their animals? Maya has to find her own way to solve Daisy' problems; have you ever tried a different approach than everyone else when faced with an obstacle?

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