<var id="1j5rh"></var>
<cite id="1j5rh"></cite>
<var id="1j5rh"><strike id="1j5rh"></strike></var><var id="1j5rh"><strike id="1j5rh"><thead id="1j5rh"></thead></strike></var>
<var id="1j5rh"></var>
<cite id="1j5rh"><video id="1j5rh"></video></cite>
<var id="1j5rh"></var><cite id="1j5rh"></cite><var id="1j5rh"></var>
<var id="1j5rh"></var><cite id="1j5rh"><video id="1j5rh"><menuitem id="1j5rh"></menuitem></video></cite><var id="1j5rh"></var>
<var id="1j5rh"><strike id="1j5rh"><thead id="1j5rh"></thead></strike></var>
<var id="1j5rh"></var>
<var id="1j5rh"></var>

‘Dolittle’: Film Review

This fantastical adventure does very little to stoke the imagination, refashioning a literary classic about a veterinarian who can speak with animals into a frenetic, crass kids’ flick.

Stephen Gaghan
Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent
Release Date:
Jan 17, 2020

Rated PG  Running time: 100 MIN.

Official Site: https://www.dolittlethemovie.com/

It’s been more than half a century since Rex Harrison spoke (and sang!) to animals as author Hugh Lofting’s eloquent veterinarian (Richard Fleischer’s 1967 musical film was nominated for nine Oscars, including best picture), and just over two decades since Eddie Murphy gave his own goofy modern portrayal. That’s enough time for Dr. Dolittle to fade from kid audiences’ collective consciousness, and just the right amount for Lofting’s first two books to enter the public domain, which explains why a new studio — Universal, where the two earlier incarnations hailed from Fox — has opted to revive the character yet again, this time enlisting the intensely charismatic actor Robert Downey Jr. to play the title role.

Trouble is, this latest “Dolittle” is downright sloppy. Director Stephen Gaghan’s period-set overhaul of the literary classic proves to be as predictable as it is obnoxious. In its defense, the film evokes an arm’s-length connection with its cute CG creature coterie and delivers heartening messages about psychological trauma, and yet, the charm-starved adaptation simultaneously tests audiences’ patience with overly complicated, noisy scenarios. What should have been an awe-filled adventure quickly curdles into an awful one, thanks to a pedestrian formula and the filmmakers’ fixation on fart jokes.

Dr. John Dolittle (Downey) has been squirreled away in his British countryside manor since the death of his wife years earlier. His lush, palatial estate has fallen into disrepair, overgrown with vines and greenery (a metaphor!) that provide a protective layer to shut out human company. Though he’s cloaked in tattered clothing and sports an overgrown, ZZ Top-style sadness beard, we spot a hint of the fantastical genius who once embraced the joys of living through his interactions with the furry, feathered, and seemingly ferocious animal companions rehabilitating on the property.

Popular on Variety

Dolittle’s chosen life of solitude is interrupted one day by both Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), a young man compelled to become an apprentice, and Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado), the Queen’s (Jessie Buckley) intrepid young daughter, who’s been sent to enlist the eccentric doctor’s aid. The Queen is on her deathbed and Lady Rose needs help not only to solve the mysterious circumstances surrounding her poisoning, but also to locate a potential antidote. The stakes are high for Dolittle since, if the queen perishes before the upcoming solar eclipse, he’ll lose control of his animal sanctuary. Luckily, the doctor knows where to find a journal that tells the location of a cure. The treacherous journey will have Dolittle and company fending off a rogues’ gallery of ne’er-do-wells, including the sniveling palace doctor and former Dolittle antagonist Dr. Blair Müdfly (Michael Sheen), crooked Lord Thomas Badgley (Jim Broadbent), and conniving King Rassouli (Antonio Banderas), who has ties to Dolittle’s past.

Screenwriters Dan Gregor, Doug Mand, and Gaghan, working from a story by Thomas Shepherd, frequently go off-book in order to sketch their refurbished tale, borrowing only a waft of inspiration from the novels’ versions of Dolittle and Stubbins. It’s a shame that same level of evolving design wasn’t applied to the new characters. The women in Dolittle’s world demonstrate tenacity of spirit, but only to a limited degree: One of them is dead for the exclusive purpose of aiding two male characters’ arcs, and the other gumption-fueled gal is left at home while the men adventure, satisfying traditionally feminine domestic constructs (nursing her ailing mother). Such faintly sexist leanings are slightly forgivable when the narrative is peppered with healthy sentiments about how to handle grief, anxiety, and disability, as well as the values of being vulnerable with each other and kind to animals. Still, those messages are garbled in execution and lack the proper breathing room to make them impactful on the characters for more than a few seconds when conveniently utilized.

Despite the good the picture attempts to put into the universe, there’s much more that drags it down. The sheer volume of crass flatulence jokes and routines involving animal nether regions should get youngsters in the audience laughing, but will just as assuredly make the grownups groan. Once the film wears out jokes with dog Jip (voiced by Tom Holland), discussing butts and scooting on the floor, you’d think the film would’ve reached its capacity. But no, there’s still more in store, as the film stoops to include a disgruntled tiger (Ralph Fiennes) getting kicked in the crotch and a dragon (Frances de la Tour) getting an enema.

The movie’s elaborate — and, ultimately, repetitive — Rube Goldberg-inspired action sequences might have been more effective if streamlined, while the absurdist humor to be found in these moments is frequently undercut in favor of garish, pratfall-adjacent shenanigans. Editor Craig Alpert cuts away too quickly from a bit between rebellious fox Tutu (Marion Cotillard) and brave giraffe Betsy (Selena Gomez) about how they’ll cover up Stubbins’ death if he doesn’t make it onto Dolittle’s ship, one of many moments drowned out by Danny Elfman’s overbearing score. Plus, the anachronistic dialogue from polar bear Yoshi (John Cena, who says “bro” a bunch) and an octopus who spews “snitches get stitches” clash with the immersive Victorian-era world the filmmakers have crafted.

All these misfired attempts at humor serve to dampen Downey’s innate magnetism — so strikingly evident in his revival of the “Sherlock Holmes” franchise — which is completely lost in this back-to-the-book reboot. The compelling nuance of Dolittle facing his crippling sorrow yields little emotional wallop. And while one can make excuses for the non-uniformity of all those voiceover accents, seeing as how the animals hail from all over the globe, it’s a puzzle trying to figure out Downey’s mush-mouthed Welsh accent. Considering that Dolittle’s signature is the fact he can talk to animals, it’s a puzzle why Downey’s performance sounds as if it were entirely looped in ADR. Now that the rights to Lofting’s novels have lapsed, this surely won’t be Hollywood’s last Dolittle adaptation. Let’s just hope whoever follows can write the right prescription, balancing between humor and heart to deliver a doctor worth celebrating.

'Dolittle': Film Review

Reviewed at Arclight Hollywood, Los Angeles, Jan. 13, 2020. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 100 MIN.

Production: A Universal Pictures release of a Perfect World production in association with RK Films. Producers: Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Susan Downey. Executive producers: Robert Downey Jr., Sarah Bradshaw, Zachary Roth.

Crew: Director: Stephen Gaghan. Screenplay: Stephen Gaghan, Dan Gregor, Doug Mand. Camera: Guillermo Navarro. Editor: Craig Alpert. Music: Danny Elfman.

With: Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, John Cena, Rami Malek, Ralph Fiennes, Frances de la Tour, Selena Gomez, Tom Holland, Kumail Nanjiani, Craig Robinson, Octavia Spencer and Emma Thompson.

More Film

  • 'Wildland' Review: Sidse Babett Knudsen Is

    'Wildland': Film Review

    After the sudden death of her mother, an introverted teenager is taken in by an estranged female relative, who turns out to be the matriarch of a dangerous criminal family. If the essential logline of Danish director Jeanette Nordahl’s quietly tense debut “Wildland” sounds more than a little familiar, perhaps the same thought occurred to [...]

  • 30West Acquires Stake in U.K.’s Altitude

    30West to Acquire Stake in British Film Company Altitude

    30West is to acquire a significant minority stake in Altitude Media Group, the British film company led by Will Clarke and Andy Mayson. The move marks 30West’s second corporate investment after it took a stake in 2018 in U.S. film distributor Neon, whose Korean film “Parasite” won an Oscar for best picture – the first [...]

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' Cinematographer, Costume Designer on the 'Painterly' 18th-Century Look

    “Painterly” might be an overused term to describe a certain aesthetic of period cinematography, informed by candlelit interiors and sweeping outdoor compositions. But it seizes the essence of French writer-director Céline Sciamma’s deeply feminist 18th-century gay romance set on the coast of Brittany, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” which debuted in theaters on Valentine’s [...]

  • 'Malmkrog' Review

    'Malmkrog': Film Review

    Since Cristi Puiu’s “Malmkrog” means to drown the viewer in a dense and arcane philosophical debate about Good and Evil, the nature of Christ, Europe and the direction of History, let’s add another strand to the discussion: how is cinema put to best use? It’s an especially pertinent question since Puiu’s always stunning use of [...]

  • Onward Animated Film 2020

    'Onward': Film Review

    Later this year  — Nov. 19, 2020, to be exact — will mark the 25th anniversary of the premiere of “Toy Story,” the first feature from Pixar. In 1995, that movie launched the digital-animation revolution, a paradigm shift that Pixar, for a long time, more or less owned. Yet as the company’s innovations evolved into [...]

  • Joel Edgerton

    Joel Edgerton to Star in True Crime Thriller 'The Unknown Man,' Alongside Sean Harris

    Joel Edgerton, whose credits include “Loving,” “Boy Erased” and “The King,” has signed on to star in and co-produce the See-Saw Films and Anonymous Content true crime thriller “The Unknown Man.” Rocket Science, in partnership with See-Saw’s in-house sales division Cross City Films, will launch the project at the European Film Market in Berlin. Written [...]

  • PAW Patrol

    'PAW Patrol' Animated Movie in the Works

    PAW Patrol is on a roll! The popular Nickelodeon animated series is coming to the big screen. The Paramount film, directed by animation veteran Cal Brunker, whose credits include “Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” and “Escape From Planet Earth,” hits theaters in August 2021. Spin Master Entertainment’s executive vice president Jennifer Dodge will produce [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content