Robert Downey Jr. stars as one of literature’s most enduring characters in a vivid reimagining of the classic tale of the man who could talk to animals: Dolittle.
After losing his wife (Kasia Smutniak) seven years earlier, the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle (Downey), famed doctor and veterinarian of Queen Victoria’s England, hermits himself away behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his menagerie of exotic animals for company.
But when the young queen (Jessie Buckley) falls gravely ill, a reluctant Dolittle is forced to set sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island in search of a cure, regaining his wit and courage as he crosses old adversaries and discovers wondrous creatures.
The doctor is joined on his quest by a young, self-appointed apprentice, Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) and a band of his animal friends, including a fearful gorilla, Chee-Chee (Rami Malek), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck,Dab-Dab (Octavia Spencer), a bickering duo of a cynical ostrich, Plimpton (Kumail Nanjiani) and an upbeat polar bear, Yoshi (John Cena) and a headstrong parrot, Poly (Emma Thompson), who also serves as Dolittle’s most trusted advisor and confidante.
The film also stars Antonio Banderas as King Rassouli, Michael Sheen as Dr. Blair Müdfly, and voice performances from Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard, Frances de la Tour, Jason Mantzoukas and Craig Robinson.
As much as I love RDJ as an actor this was not one of his stand out roles. Literally anyone could have played this role and had the same impact. The true stars of this movie are the animals and thank goodness there are a lot of those scenes. I couldn’t even pick a favorite out of them they all have their own qualities that make them special. Chee-chee reminded me of the cowardly lion who struggles to find the courage to face his fears, Yoshi a polar bear who always feels cold and hates it, Kevin the squirrel (Robinson) whose scenes consisted of diary entries about the boy who shot him is only sticking around to “finish the job” and when he will be able to get his revenge. Barry (Fiennes) the tiger concerned that he’s not fierce enough to please his mother, and James the Dragonfly (Mantzoukas), a lover and definitely not a fighter who still hasn’t gotten over his ex.
While the animals were all great, the human aspect of the movie was lacking on most parts except for Micheal Sheen as Dr. Müdfly, Dolittle’s nemesis at university who was one of the best villains I’ve seen in a while. And when I say villain I do not mean a criminal mastermind who thinks 3 steps ahead of his foe, but a bumbling idiot who wears black and can be outsmarted by a 6 year old. Harry Collet as Tommy also did a pretty good job as his character was instrumental in pulling Dolittle out of his “ I hate all people” mindset since he was the first person John was forced to interact with after losing his wife seven years ago.