Movie Review – ‘Dolittle’

Hello everyone. 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

I’ve now seen the latest ‘Dolittle’ film starring Robert Downey Jr. I wasn’t really interested in this film at the time it came out at cinemas in January 2020. But over the past five months and with us going through the current pandemic – please keep safe – I’ve found myself taking an interest in this film. 🙂

The film is inspired by the literary character of Doctor Dolittle, created by Hugh Lofting from his books published from the 1920s to the 1950s. I’ve not read any ‘Doctor Dolittle’ books before as a kid, but the character’s gained a following in terms of certain films he’s appeared in over the years. 🙂

In 1967, a ‘Doctor Dolittle’ film was made, starring Rex Harrison. From 1998 to 2009, a series of ‘Dr. Dolittle’ films were made, starring Eddie Murphy, though he was taken over by Kyla Pratt. I went into seeing this latest film adaptation of ‘Dolittle’ without having any prior knowledge about him. 😀

I guess my interest in this film came about when I discovered it wasn’t well-received by critics and it performed poorly at the box office. I was also curious about what Robert Downey Jr. was like as Dolittle, after having finished playing Tony Stark/Iron Man in the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ films.

I have seen Robert Downey Jr. in another film outside the ‘MCU’, which was the 2006 remake of ‘The Shaggy Dog’. Even though that film wasn’t well-received, I still enjoyed it and consider it a personal favourite. So, I did wonder whether I’d like ‘Dolittle’ or not after hearing the bad things said about it.

And after seeing it via a digital rent on Google Play, I…actually quite like ‘Dolittle’ as a movie. No really, I found myself entertained with this film. Do I think it’s a great movie? No, I wouldn’t be that generous. But I do think the film has some potential despite some very major problems evident in it.

I think the main problem with this film is that it’s all over the place. The tone is pretty uneven, especially for a kids’ film. There are also certain characters that don’t get fully developed. But in general, I think this is a kids’ film that’s bound to be enjoyable as I did find myself laughing at points.

The film of course is about a man – John Dolittle – who can talk to animals. After losing his wife and being a hermit inside his manor, he’s forced to set sail on an epic adventure once the Queen of England has become gravely ill. He gets help from his animal friends as well as a boy to find a cure. 🙂

Robert Downey Jr. is very entertaining as Dr. Dolittle. I wouldn’t say it was a great performance, but I did find him electrifying as the previews said. Interestingly, RDJ does a Welsh accent for Dolittle in the film. I’m not sure if Dolittle is Welsh, but it’s an intriguing interpretation of the character here. 😀

The rest of the cast includes Harry Collett as Tommy Stubbins, who becomes Dolittle’s self-appointed apprentice in the film. There’s also Antonio Banderas as King Rassouli, who is a king of bandits and was once the father of Dolittle’s wife, Lily. There’s also Michael Sheen (who was in ‘Good Omens’ with David Tennant) as Dr. Blair Müdfly, who’s an old schoolmate of Dolittle and becomes his rival. 🙂

There’s also Jim Broadbent as Lord Thomas Badgley; Jessie Buckley as Queen Victoria and Carmel Laniado as Lady Rose (who I think should’ve been properly developed as a character). There’s also Ralph Ineson as Arnall Stubins, Tommy’s uncle and Joanna Page as Bethan Stubbins, Tommy’s aunt.

There are a number of animals featured in this movie who are voiced by a variety of star-studied cast members. This includes Emma Thompson as Polynesia (Poly for short) the parrot; Rami Malek as Chee-Chee the gorilla; John Cena as Yoshi the polar bear; Kumail Nanjiani as Plimpton the ostrich; Octavia Spencer as Dab-Dab the duck; Tom Holland (Spider-Man in the ‘MCU’) as Jip the dog; Craig Robinson as Kevin the squirrel (who wants revenge on Tommy for shooting him which we don’t get to see); Ralph Fiennes as Barry the aggressive tiger; Selena Gomez as Betsy the giraffe and Marion Cotillard as Tutu the French fox. The way that Dolittle is able to communicate with these animals is fascinating to see.

There are some animal characters that surprised me in this film. Jason Mantzoukas voices James the comical dragonfly; Frances de la Tour voices Ginko-Who Soars, a fire-breathing drag (Crikey, I didn’t realise Smaug was in this movie 😀 ); Tim Treloar (Wow! He’s in this movie!) voices Humphrey the whale; and Will Arnett voices a hare who’s a friend of Barry the tiger. Wait a minute! Will Arnett and Ralph Fiennes in this same movie. I’m surprised Will Arnett didn’t play LEGO Batman at some point.

So overall, ‘Dolittle’ was a fun film to watch. I wouldn’t call it a great film and it’s understandable to see why it failed at the box office and why critics didn’t like it. But the film was worth watching for a fun Robert Downey Jr. performance and it was a rollicking adventure for me personally to get into. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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