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Doctor Dolittle Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 5+

Animal-friendly, kid-friendly classic -- but dated.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic family tale is exceedingly G-rated -- for lively songs, fuzzy animals, dancing and cavorting. But watch out for some dated stereotypes, including that of a "Red Indian" called Long Arrow who sends an illiterate message along with an animal he's captured for Doolittle. Women also get second-class status, which is evident when Dolittle claims that he treated Emma "very well," even though she's a female. Children younger than 5 will appreciate the fun and silliness, but may be impatient with the slow first half.

  • Families can talk about some of the dated stereotypes in this movie. Which stereotypes did you notice? What was your reaction? Is the movie still enjoyable even with these elements? Do you think people still believe in these kinds of stereotypes?
  • Talk about learning different languages (Dolittle knows498), and use it as a jumping off point for encouraging languagedevelopment in their own children.
  • The film makes a plea for humans to treat each other with civility and kindness. How can your family encourage kindness? What steps can you take to make the world a more civil place?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true1

    Educational value: Animals and their behavior are examined in a light-hearted way, but certain facts about habitat are thrown in at random.

  • message true0

    Messages: Some stereotyping about Irishmen's proclivity to drink, women's capabilities, and "natives." On the positive, the movie encourages people to treat each other kindly.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Though Doctor Doolittle cares immensely about animals, he is the first to admit that he has a lousy way with humans.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence and scariness: Slapstick scenes of a man's broken foot getting stomped on and animals running wild, causing things to fall on people's heads. A ship capsizes, but all passengers are fine after the storm. Natives of an island threaten to burn characters and cause them a "death of a thousand screams," though a peaceful resolution is found.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Chaste kisses among characters (and animals!). A man swoons when he is kissed on the cheek by a woman. After a shipwreck, Emma says, while wearing a full-length sleeveless dress, that "this is my underwear."

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Matthew drinks whiskey from a pint throughout the day. A magistrate is reported in court to have drunk a large quantity of wine and brandy the previous night.