Review of 'Dolittle'

dolittle.jpg If you are used to seeing Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies brace yourself for a bit of a shock as he appears as the famous animal-talking doctor in this turkey of a film.

Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) is able to speak to the animals though has retreated from the world after the death of his wife Lily (Kasia Smutniak). Called upon to save the life of the queen and a squirrel accidently shot by Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), budding veterinary doctor and animal linguist, Dolittle is forced out of his revere and out on a voyage in search of the “Eden Fruit” as a cure for the poisoned queen. He is aided by his animal friends, Chee-Chee, (voiced by Rami Malek) a cowardly gorilla, Dab-Dab, (voiced by Octavia Spencer), a scatter-brained duck, and Poly, a multi-lingual parrot (voiced by Emma Thompson). Along the way they encounter many mysterious places and beasts, but will they find the cure? Guess.

I am not sure what the first thing was that really irritated me about this film. Was it the horrible voice over given to Downey or whether it was the pathetically childish animal characters. In any case, the whole film pretty much grates as it does with only a slight saving in a decent enough, though unoriginal and boring, plot. The voices giving life the characters certainly do not help being more Saturday morning cartoon than film worthy. The effects are reasonable but not really convincing as the animals act more like humans than anything else with wise-cracks and expressions to match.

I remember reading the original Doctor Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting as a child where they were light but consistent and fairly serious in their subject matter. None of these charms have made it to the screen here but instead we are treated to a mindless slapstick comedy with little or no emotional depth and lacklustre performances in both the real and unreal stars.

In summary: Disappointing and, frankly, annoying. I can see some young children might find it amusing but that is about it.

Rating: “A slight glimmer of hope, but mostly awful”

Review Date: 2023-02-26

Directed by: Stephen Gagham

Studio: Universal Pictures

Year: 2020

Length: 101 minutes

Genre: Fantasy