Title – Dolittle (2020)
Director – Stephen Gaghan (Gold)
Cast – Robert Downey Jr., Harry Collett, Michael Sheen, Antonio Banderas, (voices of) John Cena, Rami Malek, Emma Thompson, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes
Plot – Gifted with the ability to talk to animals, reclusive animal physician Dr. John Dolittle (Downey Jr.) is bought out of his isolated existence to help save the Queen of England by taking on a quest that will take him and his animal friends on a dangerous adventure.
“We’ve no choice but to embark on this perilous journey”
Review by Eddie on 20/04/2020
You didn’t have to be much of a tea leaf reader to see that the writing was on the wall for Dolittle’s failure fairly early on.
Facing release delays, re-shoots and some fairly inconspicuous re-dubbings that are evident in the final product, Stephan Gaghan’s $175 million dollar production and reimagining of Hugh Lofting’s famed character received a critical drubbing only bettered by Cats in this year’s holiday release schedule as the Robert Downey Jr. portrayed animal doctor headed on his way to commercial failure and audience disappointment.
In many ways, Gaghan’s dull and lifeless computer generated centric adventure makes Eddie Murphy’s late 90’s and early 2000’s Dr. Dolittle offerings appear to be minor masterpieces of family entertainment, as he and his lead actor get lost amongst a boorish plot filled with tasteless jokes, that somehow required 5 able minded screenwriters to come up with.
The worst thing about this wannabe family favourite is the fact that it’s not even so bad its good like Cats now infamous midnight screenings attest to, as Dolittle is instead just endlessly uninteresting, lame and sad in the way in which its clearly hating it lead and collection of side characters and voice actors are wasted in a big budget affair that should’ve been able to deliver something a lot more entertaining than it managed to do with this final offering.
Produced by his wife Susan, the only excuse Downey Jr. has for putting his name and horrible Welsh (at least I think its Welsh) accent to this cinematic turkey, is that its ties of love and family bonds that lead him down this path, as after the highs of his performance in last year’s Avengers: Endgame, it’s sad to see the usually charismatic performer deliver such a tonally awkward and forgettable turn, especially as a character that we know can be such a source of solid entertainment.
With Downey Jr on as bad as it gets form and with the films terrible plot consistently at play (how did dragons end up in this or a make-up clad Antonio Banderas?), Gaghan’s and the films last hope was to somehow find comedic gold or energy in its cast of real-life and computer generated creatures but that was not forthcoming.
The animals found in Dolittle look cute and are sure to please the little ones in an aesthetically pleasing way but much like the film they find themselves in, their devoid of much charm or material worthy of the voice talent behind them, with none of the likes of Emma Thompson, Oscar winner Rami Malek or comedy players Craig Robinson or Kumail Nanjiani able to make their animal incarnations better than the film they’re a part of.
Final Say –
Dolittle is bad, not bad as in a completely unwatchable way but bad as in sad. A sorrowful waste of talent, money and material, Stephan Gaghan’s high-profile misfire is unlikely to ever find many outside of Britney Spears who glowingly endorse it as a fun family entertainment.
1 Gorilla masseuses out of 5