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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Dolittle' Review: Robert Downey Jr. Goes On An Animalistic Adventure

Robert Downey Jr. holding a hat
Universal Pictures

Before we get deep into the movie, let’s take it back a few years to the moment the idea for Dolittle came to be: Screenwriters get an email which informs them that they have been hired. Unfortunately they read the bold text as ”Do Little” while the email continues to state that the movie shall be based on the adventures of Dr. Dolittle. Well they certainly didn’t do much since the equivalent of a shredded document is left for those in post-production to try to turn it into something.

Most of Dolittle’s characters are animals which creates a lot of work for visual effects artists. The animals look great and move around smoothly and though there are a lot of other things to joke about, the artists have done their job really well. Other than that there is especially a part that happens in the sea and all of it looks pretty cool for an adventure movie aimed for kids. What you might’ve missed is that there’s a musical score by Danny Elfman and it certainly holds its own being as whimsical as needed. I can almost picture in my head the terror that editor Craig Alpert had on his face when he received the files. He is very much to thank that this even came out since it mustn’t have been an easy job to edit together the scenes that don’t really belong together tonally. There was a lot of reshoots and seems like a lot of new ADR added later on which probably were a big help.

As I alluded in the beginning, the screenplay written by director Stephen Gaghan, Dan Gregor and Doug Mand is absolutely laughable along with the attempts at humour. Most of the breathing-out-of-nose moments are genuinely just references to other movies (like 'The Godfather'). Both real—such as Antonio Banderas (as King Rassouli) or Harry Collett (Tommy, Dolittle's apprentice)—and voice actors have nothing to tell you, they just have words to say out loud while the director just commands them to move around the room or space.

And I kid you not, the big climactic scene at the end is dragon farting after Dr. John Dolittle (played by Robert Downey Jr.) himself pulls stuff out of her butthole. Yikes. Downey makes sure that the audience needs subtitles as his speech is incomprehensible due to a weird accent, all while he lacks any traits which would make the character entertaining to watch. Dolittle also further proves the point that the trend of big name actors providing the voices over unknowns is still happening for worse. Rami Malek (Chee-Chee), Selena Gomez (Betsy) and John Cena (Yoshi) offer nothing of value here.

Smileys: Character design

Frowneys: Screenplay, humour, dialogue, Robert Downey Jr.

I don’t usually talk much about the scores themselves but in case you’re wondering why this doesn’t get a 0.5 or 1.0: The fact that a lot of people in post-production cared enough to make this better says something. Those deserving less are left to die while Dolittle is just an example of a boring film.


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