I of course had my expectations set super low for this movie, and of course those expectations were almost met, because in the same way Marvel lingers on pointless laughs for fan service, Dolittle tries to achieve similar effects. The difference here though is that nobody will ever care to remember this remake of what is among the most pathetic movies ever to get nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, nor should they ever remember it.
To start, the co-lead is a young boy, and he’s so stupid that he thinks a polar bear is a dog. But he’s also expected to later be the doc’s apprentice and know how to care for his patients. Right… not even this actual doctor is a good one, as he basically forces some mice to lose their free will as he makes them stand in as chess pieces when he plays against his gorilla friend. Though he’s no friend to them, as he even is seen physically hurting them a couple of times! Robert Downey Jr. really embarrasses himself in this role, his accent is… yikes. Though he acts more confused than the entire cast with all the pathetic jokes they must deliver. At one point, the duck craps an egg out of fear. At another, the ostrich gets so scared he sticks his head inside a hat on the ground. Oh, but the goofiness continues:
- The duck believes that a leek would become a crucial herbal medicine. (Get it? It’s like the old Japanese saying! Albeit, that saying actually involved green onions, but it’s close enough to a leek.)
- The gorilla screams like a goat.
- A dog rubs his butt on the floor of the queen’s bedroom.
- A cute, wet sugar glider shakes its fur then puffs up.
- A giant cat chases what resembles a laser pointer, then gets kicked in the balls.
- An ant talks like Don Corleone from The Godfather.
- A fly calls himself the “chosen one” after surviving a fly swatter.
- A whale seems to wave at a man when he is actually flipping the bird. (Get it? Because whales have flippers! Hahahaha!)
The digital puppets do, um, “try” to emote, yet most, particularly the parrot, just fail to talk without looking weird, it takes you out of the experience. I can’t believe the human actors ever talk to the awkwardly animated quadrupeds and bipeds, seriously, why bother casting all these major stars if those who did so would ignore the obvious talent? I thought producers would know by now that star power no longer guarantees box office success, guess not! Don’t get me wrong though, the lack of direction these actors have behind their microphones would still be there if the whole movie kept animated like its opening prologue. None of the vocal talent even seems to understand the context of any words they say, almost as if you can vaguely hear them say, “Oh just kill me” if you listen super close.
To contrast against those wonky animals: the confused main boy actor never tries in his role, a different kind of horrid acting. The rest of the technical elements are equally as bad as the cast; the first thing coming to mind being the cinematography. In a particular shot, the sunny sky casts a clear hard shadow on a man’s face, in the next shot of the same man, the sky turns overcast, so the hard shadow on his face disappears. Such inconsistency makes this look like what would happen if you gave a high school movie-making class a $175 million budget.
Now, remember back around twenty years ago when Nickelodeon sustained a trend of theatrical releases off their TV shows? Remember how they urged children to complain until the parents caved into buying tickets? I remember back when Rugrats Go Wild made the biggest deal of the Rugrats meeting the Wild Thornberrys, so set up contests, plus “scratch-and-sniff” cards from Burger King to make kids BEG to see the movie. Apparently, the scheme worked: I made my mom take me to see it. I feel sorry for my mom, now. In that same way, I feel sorry for the parents who had to sit through this very feature. Though its attempt to appeal with its risqué content for a PG-rating and its cast of talking animals full of one-liners prove to be futile. Back throughout the early days of the Disney Renaissance, Disney had a handle on universal appeal because their projects were so passionate. Though now, Universal Pictures just created a feature-length commercial for the potential toys, games, and memes (mostly memes) that’ll never come out of their soulless product.
Now, I love animals, I today still love the zoo, as there, I can see those creatures seen from photos and videos in person at last, an experience infinitely more worthwhile than the choppy parrot, polar bear, ostrich, gorilla, duck, squirrel, dog, sugar glider, giraffe, fox, tiger, and dragon of Dolittle.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Dolittle. Universal Pictures. Web. <https://www.dolittlethemovie.com/>.
Howard, Courtney. “‘Dolittle’: Film Review.” Digital image. Variety. Wordpress, 15 Jan 2020. Web. <https://variety.com/2020/film/reviews/dolittle-review-1203467269/>.