By Kaylee Brewster
one-and-a-half out of four
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Last year, Robert Downey Jr. was the star of a billion dollar franchise and the highest grossing movie of all time (“Avengers: Endgame”). As he said goodbye to the role of Tony Stark, fans waited to see what he would do next.
Too bad it was “Dolittle.”
It is incomprehensible how a movie about a beloved fictional character played by an accomplished and likable actor with a voice cast that includes half of Hollywood (Tom Holland, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjani, Octavia Spencer, Craig Robertson, Ralph Fiennes, just to name a few) could fail so magnificently.
Well, actually, it’s pretty simple. It’s all in the script.
The foundation of “Dolittle” is built on the shaky premise that the doctor must embark on a voyage to an uncharted island in order to save the Queen of England, which in turn will also save his animal sanctuary. He brings along his animal friends, Poly the parrot (Thompson), Chee-Chee the gorilla (Malek), Yoshi the polar bear (Cena), Plimpton the ostrich (Nanjani), along with countless others, including a human boy, Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett).
While there is adventure to be had, most of what ensues is characters talking. It can’t be considered engaging dialogue; they’re just talking. It’s like during recording sessions with the cast they set the actors loose. Dolittle speaks to animals, but it seems to be all he does and it doesn’t translate well for the audience. Animals and Dolittle chatter away like there’s not a plot that needs to be moved forward.
That’s the other problem. There’s really only a handful of events that happen to keep the story afloat.
“Dolittle” provides some moments of laughter for the audience, mostly its youngest viewers. As the film progresses, the jokes don’t land as well, mostly because they are recycled from previous chuckles.
Visually, “Dolittle” manages some spectacle. While the computer generated animals don’t look as realistic as “The Lion King” or “The Jungle Book,” they look real enough to work. Some of the colorful set designs and costumes are enjoyable. It’s one of the few positives.
“Dolittle” shows that having all the right ingredients for a good movie doesn’t matter if the script can’t support the film. Despite Downey’s best efforts (you can almost feel him struggling to carry the film), “Dolittle” does very little right.