Last weekend provided evidence that audiences have a need for speed and a fondness for talking animals with bad flatulence. Hollywood sure knows how to give the public what it wants. Those who care about what audiences need are not having a good summer. And those who write reviews in hopes of counseling moviegoers toward excellence, well, they're left scratching their heads, baffled by the box office.


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Audiences obviously get something out of watching Eddie Murphy react to talking animals that pass gas, because here he is again with Doctor Dolittle 2. The U.S. Catholic Conference says Doctor Dolittle 2 "offers a rehash of the same sassy wisecracks between Murphy and the critters in a drawn-out, sometimes sweet but often rude sequel." This time, Dolittle gets back to nature, setting up camp in a forest where he intends to introduce Archie, a circus bear, to Ava, an endangered wild bear. If he can only help them help themselves—that is, if the sparks of love will fly—then the woods will be protected from the wicked, encroaching developers.

Encroaching bad reviews—from the mainstream and the religious press—didn't phase most filmgoing families; the $25 million the film brought in over the weekend practically guarantees we'll be seeing more of this stuff. Murphy, whose fans grumble that his best work seems to be a thing of the past, manages to be more popular than ever.

The prevalence of sex-related humor throughout the film prevented its acceptance with critics in the religious media. Preview warns that the subject of "mating" may be inappropriate as the central thread of a children's movie, and also joins the collective critical sigh over the typically crude humor. "But," Preview's critic concludes, "Doctor Dolittle ...

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