Adventure Comedy

Review: ‘Dolittle’ is Fun for Animal Lovers of All Ages

January 16, 2020Sherry Li

Dolittle, from director Stephen Gaghan, is a story which has been told many times. But despite its lack of originality, this beautiful and fun adventure film is sure to delight animal lovers of all ages.

Starring the effortlessly charming Robert Downey Jr. as Dr. John Dolittle, the film begins with the love story between him and his wife, Lily, an adventurer whose last trip resulted in her death. Heartbroken, Dr. Dolittle closes his animal sanctuary's doors to the public, refusing to let any humans in. That is, until Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), a young boy who has injured a squirrel, and Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) show up at his door. Tommy, in awe of all the amazing animals and the fact that Dr. Dolittle can talk to them, decides to become his apprentice, while Lady Rose brings news that Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) is seriously ill and has asked for the doctor personally to come treat her.

What follows is a genuinely good time, and the animals — parrot Poly (Emma Thompson), gorilla Chee-Chee (Rami Malek), polar bear Yoshi (John Cena), ostrich Plimpton (Kumail Nanjiani), goose Dab-Dab (Octavia Spencer), and many more — all have vibrant personalities and are all incredibly hilarious together. Downey also does a fantastic job of acting with them and there's never a moment where we question whether or not they are real. However, Downey's accent, which appears to be Welsh, is less believable and serves more as a distraction at times, and the character could have worked just as well without it.

More problematic is the introduction of Tommy, whom Poly the parrot claims has something special about him which she's only seen in two other people, as it shows that Dr. Dolittle's gift of being able to talk to animals is something that can be learned. This takes away the magic from his ability, especially since Tommy gains greater comprehension of animal languages and starts to communicate with them throughout the movie. As a result, it makes what Dr. Dolittle does seem less special.

That said, Dolittle is still worth checking out, if only for its incredible cast alone. There are plenty of laughs to be had and the magical world that the character lives in is one that's certainly worth visiting.

Dolittle releases January 17th, 2020 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for some action, rude humor and brief language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 41 min.

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