Dolittle film review

A film that never understood what it wanted from itself

Dolittle has scored a 16 per cent on Rotton Tomatoes and is projected to lose up to $100 million if based solely on domestic earnings alone. And though the film isn’t so bad that I’d rate it as such, it’s hard not to understand why this occurred in the first place.

Dolittle follows Doctor Dolittle and his assistant, Stubbins, on their goal to try and find a magical fruit in order to save the Queen of England. The doctor and all his animal assistants, as well as his ward, all travel trying to overcome fears, grief and find a sense of family along the way.

The only redeeming quality of the film is the acting of Robert Downey Jr. as Dolittle himself. That’s not to say that the character is good at all, but it’s obvious that after playing the same role for 10 years as Iron Man with very few breaks, the actor wanted to do his best to present this character as wacky and spontaneous as he could. It’s just that the character was so poorly written, there wasn’t a lot he could have done in the first place.

The story wants the entire movie to be this grand epic that carries the audience to multiple fantastical lands in search of this treasure that his wife died trying to find. (That’s not much of a spoiler, you learn that in the first 5 minutes). The issue comes when the places they go aren’t fleshed out at all so that it feels utterly pointless when they traverse there. The villans come off as literal cartoon characters.

But the worst part comes from the inconsistencies with the tone of the picture. At one moment, Robert Downey Jr. will be making very loud animal sounds and then make a very layered joke at abandonment right after, all while trying to still present this fantasy take at the setting. It comes off as a crossbreed between Beverly Hills Chewawa, Lord of the Rings and Peter Pan. What comes out is a big clunky mess.

Dolittle has a runtime of one hour and 41 minutes but with such a messy plot, characters that come off as irritating and a problem with the tone, it feels much, much longer. Robert Downey Jr. tried to branch out, but even he couldn’t save this mess of a movie that definitely won’t make its money back.