Dolittle, an Adventure Packed Kids Movie

Robert Downey Jr. performs in a fantastic non action movie

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Robert Downey Jr's performance in Dolittle had audiences surprised at his role after Iron Man

Marissa Parker and Brandon Coon

Robert Downey Jr. recently walked away from his Iron Man suit to play Doctor Dolittle in the movie Dolittle. Doctor Doolittle has had a long history of success, first as a series of children’s books by Hugh Lofting and then with a 1967 film adaptation starring Rex Harrison and three films in the late 1990s starring Eddie Murphy. Sadly, this movie does not live up to that legacy, and even Downey’s charisma and all-star cast can’t save a movie drowning in forgettable plot and dragon farts.

Yes, you read that correctly.

This movie is about Dr. Dolittle (Downey) living in 19th century England. He is the queen’s vet until his wife dies and he isolates himself with no one but his animals to keep him company. When the Queen gets sick, she orders Dolittle to find a cure, so he goes off with a squirrel (voiced by Craig Robinson), a parrot (voiced by Emma Thomson), a gorilla (voiced by Rami Malek), an ostrich (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani), a duck (voiced by Octavia Spenser), and a polar bear (voiced by John Cena). Joining the zoo crew is a boy named Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) who has recently befriended Dolittle. Dolittle finds they have to sail to an island for some magic fruit, but they need to get there before their rival Dr. Mudfly (Michael Sheen) gets there first and… cures the queen himself, I guess?

After some high seas shenanigans, Doolittle reached the island where the fruit is and is captured by his dead wife’s father King Rassouli (actually played very well by Antonio Bandaras), who sends Dolittle into a tiger pit to be killed. Dolittle is, of course, saved by animals and wins the respect of the man who just tried to kill him. King Rassouli then gives Dolittle a boat after Mudfly destroys his old boat. They then get to an island where, in order to get the fruit, Dolittle has to relieve a dragon’s intestinal problems. Yes, this film’s final battle ends with the main character’s arms up a dragon’s backside.

That’s not where the movie ends–the queen is saved, the boy is adopted by Dolittle, etc–but that’s where it ended for me. That climactic scene encompasses everything wrong with that film on a whole. It starts in an amazing way. The look of all of the characters is outstanding–as all the animals are very realistic and the costume design for Dr. Dolittle is perfect–and nowhere is this more pronounced than the look of the dragon. The settings are all also fantastic–early in the film looks like Victorian England, King Rassouli’s island is beautiful, and the final dragon’s cave would look at home in a Lord of the Rings movie. The acting is also spot on throughout, with the vocal work of every celebrity paying off in creating memorable characters. However, it’s what they are doing in all of these beautiful scenes, what they are saying in their perfect voices that ruins the film. The plot makes very little sense and too much of the dialogue is devoted to low humor–in addition to the dragon proctology scene, there are dozens of off-color jokes that only a fifth-grader would find funny.

Dolittle is ultimately a confusing movie. There are some parts that are exciting and the visuals and music are gorgeous (the soundtrack is by Danny Elfman of Beetlejuice and A Nightmare Before Christmas fame), but it doesn’t do anything interesting. Dolittle has 15% on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s no wonder: critics like Empire say Dolittle is a “lackluster kids’ flick that doesn’t find its voice, animal, or otherwise.” It’s true, more than excitement and action it was missing its plot. While many will say that Dolittle was meant for kids, it doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s bad–Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse and Frozen were also made for kids but were great. Overall, kids may love the astounding visuals and the funny talking animals, but teens and adults will either hate this film or completely forget it in a week.

Like a dragon fart in the wind.