"Dr. Dolittle" (1998)-- I think the "Dr." in the title pretty much says it all: Hugh Lofting always insisted that the word "Doctor" be spelled out rather than abbreviated, but no real harm is done here because this film isn't really about Lofting's character. Instead, it's a vehicle for comic Eddie Murphy, who stars as a 1990's family man and physician whose practice is about be bought out by an "evil" HMO. As if that weren't enough to worry about, he suddenly regains a long-dormant, mysterious ability to understand animal language (heard in the film as English, with the animals voiced by other well-known comedians). The good doctor at first rejects his "gift," but eventually (I imagine, not having seen the film yet) comes to see its value. The movie did quite well in the US market. As to whether it succeeds "artistically" (on its own terms, that is), that judgment probably depends on whether one appreciates the particular brand of scatological humor it employs. For our purposes, it is enough to note that, though Lofting is given a writing credit and the film was billed as a remake of the 1967 musical, its story and tone have been altered greatly enough that it makes more sense to see it as "inspired by" those sources rather than adapted from them.
"Dr. Dolittle 2" (2001)-- The first "Dr. Dolittle" did so well that a sequel was made three years later. In this one, the Doctor uses his special ability to attempt to save a forest by establishing it as the home of an endangered bear species. Trouble is, Mama Bear isn't actually interested in setting up house with Papa, so it looks like Dr. D will have to add "romance counselor" to his already varied resume.
More to come...