Film Reviews

Movie review: Dolittle

Written by Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi|Published February 1, 2020

This is not the first time a film featuring Dr Dolittle has made it to the theatres, however, it is the first one that has been produced with kids in mind as an audience.

Despite the presence of Robert Downey Jr. as Dolittle, the film fails to impress even kids because it is too lengthy, without any wow factor and, above all, tries to do too much when ‘too little’ would have sufficed.

Dolittle revolves around the adventures of Dr Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.), who can talk to animals and has been granted an animal sanctuary by the Queen of England so that he can treat animals the way they deserve to be treated.

When the Queen of England falls sick, Dolittle and his team — comprising both animals and a human apprentice (Harry Collett) — must go on an expedition to retrieve a cure that will help the queen recover. If the queen dies, Dolittle will lose his sanctuary and with it, all the animals. In what can be termed as a race against time, Dolittle and friends must fetch a cure that others believe doesn’t exist and save their queen from dying.

The film’s unique selling point is the presence of many A list actors in the voice-overs line-up; Emma Thompson is a parrot, Tom Holland is a dog, John Cena is a polar bear and Rami Malek a gorilla. Then there is Kumail Nanjiani, Ralph Fiennes and Selena Gomez in the line-up too, but even then the film doesn’t end up as something you must watch because there wasn’t enough of either of the voice over actors.

Unlike other live-action and animated films out there that target kids, Dolittle misses the mark as it doesn’t have a surprise factor, something that makes the audience go wow. They have seen animals talk in The Jungle Book, The Lion King and Mowgli; sending the animals on a Pirates of a Caribbean kind of voyage was nothing but a bad idea.

What was even worse was the way Robert Downey Jr. played the character; he was at times mature and at times childish, wondering what to do after playing Iron Man for 10 years. Yes, kids who are younger than eight years might find the film loveable because of the one-liners delivered by animals and their antics, but once they grow up, they will wonder what made them like the movie in the first place. The film will prove to be a temporary respite for parents too, but a better product would surely have gone a long way.

Published in Dawn, Young World, February 1st, 2020

About the author

Omair Alavi