Film Review: <em>Dolittle</em>
Jan 18 2020

Film Review: Dolittle

By: Fritz Esker

When Hollywood has a family-friendly adventure film with an all-star cast (Robert Downey, Jr. plus the voices of Remi Malek, Emma Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Tom Holland, Octavia Spencer) and chooses to dump that film in theaters directly after the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season has ended, that's a giant red flag. Sadly, the studio was right to doubt Dolittle.

Directed and co-written by Stephen Gaghan, who co-wrote Traffic, Downey (speaking in a dubious Scottish accent) plays the famous doctor who can talk to animals. Here, he's a quirky recluse who has withdrawn from society with his menagerie after the death of his wife. Eventually (the plot takes longer than necessary to get going), he's enlisted to embark on an adventure to find a rare plant to cure Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley), who has been poisoned.

There could be some potential for a fun, swashbuckling adventure with that plot, but the script's one-liners almost entirely land with thuds. The action scenes are humdrum and none of the characters develop any depth. Very young children may enjoy the talking animals, but anyone older will likely be checking their watches long before the movie ends after 101 minutes.

★½ stars (out of four)


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