Continuing the trend of mining popular franchises for direct-to-video sequels, "Million Dollar Mutts" is the 5th in the "Dr. Dolittle" series, which Eddie Murphy jumped from after the second film. The franchise has been carried forward on video by Kyla Pratt, the daughter of Murphy's character, who also shares his gift for being able to talk to the animals.
As this 5th entry in the series opens, Maya (Pratt) is about to head off to vet school in San Francisco, but plans suddenly change when Maya is spotted by spoiled heiress (aren't riffs on Paris Hilton so 5 years ago?) Tiffany Monaco (Tegan Moss), who wants her to work with her pooch, Princess. So, rather than sit around and watch the school's orientation video again, she decides to head off with her dog, Lucky (the under-appreciated Norm MacDonald, voicing the character for the 5th time) to Hollywood to work with the spoiled pup (isn't this another variation on the same plot as the one in the 4th movie?)
After successfully helping Tiffany's dog, Maya gets noticed by TV star Brandon Turner (Brandon Jay McLaren), as well as Tiffany's sleazy agent, who tries to take advantage of Maya's gift for chatting with creatures. Although Maya gets swept up in the Hollywood glam lifestyle and potential stardom (with a new show about animals that's co-hosted by Tiffany), the show isn't what she hoped for, and she starts to regret not heading to school to learn more about how she really can help animals.
The 5th entry in the series goes over the same ground as the prior editions, with corny jokes (although there's less bathroom humor this time around, which is a plus), slapstick and obvious lessons. Still, Pratt is charming as the lead, making up for a supporting cast that either appears disinterested or tries to overact (the ridiculous performance by . The FX used to make the mouths of the animals move is fairly seamless, but the rest of the production looks as if it was filmed for TV. Although Pratt offers a fine effort, the rest of the movie is bland family fare.
The Blu-Ray edition also offers a DVD copy of the movie.
VIDEO: "Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief" is presented in 1.78:1 (1080p/AVC). This is an inconsistent presentation, although it may be due to the filming and not the transfer. Although some scenes looked bright and detailed, others could appear noticeably (and somewhat randomly) softer than the rest. A few slight instances of pixelation and edge enhancement were spotted, but these concerns were not much of a distraction. Colors looked mildly overblown; while the film takes place in sunny Los Angeles, colors appeared too pumped up. Overall, this was a slightly above-average presentation.
SOUND: The film is offered in DTS-HD 5.1 audio. I don't think it'll surprise anyone to hear that there's very little going on in this audio presentation. Surrounds offer some slight ambience and reinforcement of the score, but the audio is otherwise front-heavy (and not exactly spread widely across the front soundstage, either.) Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: "Tiffany's Tricked Out Cell Phone" (a couple of featurettes on the costumes, plus storyboards), "Star Tours: Dr. Dolittle Style" (set tours) and a 7-minute "making of" featurette ("No Business Like Show Business".)
Final Thoughts: Although Pratt offers a fine effort, the rest of "Million Dollar Mutts" is bland family fare, offering another variation on the story of the prior film. The Blu-Ray offers fine audio/video quality, along with a few minor extras. Families who are fans of the prior films and are still interested in seeing this latest addition to the franchise are advised to try a rental first.
The Film C