//PICTURED ABOVE: Robert Downey Jr., known for his roles as “Ironman,” is the lead actor and executive producer of “Dolittle.”
When British author Hugh Lofting wrote the Doctor Dolittle book series in 1920, he likely did not expect it to be interpreted into the kitsch version that “Dolittle” (2020) presented viewers with. However, that doesn’t mean that this most recent adaptation is unwatchable to everyone.
In the 1998 version with Eddie Murphy, a man suddenly regains his childhood ability to talk to animals. Rated PG-13, the movie switched from the childishness of the books to easy comedy, succeeding as expected in box offices.
Downey’s version is rated PG and leans more toward adventure than the comedy of Murphy’s 1998 version. The plot circles around the idea that Dr. John Dolittle must save the young Queen Victoria by finding a mythical cure after she suddenly falls ill. For most of the film, the audience follows the Doctor as he navigates his quest at sea with many of his animal friends and a young boy named Tommy Stubbins.
When Downey’s version came out earlier this year, I was initially apprehensive to see it because the trailers seemed juvenile and aimed at children. Furthermore, I had heard terrible things about it, including that the movie is projected to fail its $175 million budget, as it earned only $30 million during its opening weekend.
Eventually, I decided to go see the movie to judge it for myself. Not long after I began to watch, I found my concentration had withered and I wanted to close my eyes and take a nap. The opening scenes consisted mainly of Downey Jr’s quirky accent and his communication with (CGI) animals. Frenetic humor and crass jokes fell below my general standards and I failed to laugh at any, although the young child in the theater with me found them wildly funny.
This brings me to the point that I am probably not the intended audience. I am confident that many children below the age of 10 would be highly amused and awed by the silly accents and jokes. If you are above that age, your time could be better spent.
One of the few things I did find engaging was the stunning visuals. Almost every scene includes vivid colors and lifelike animation in the form of animals and landscapes. The movie’s soundtrack, which is largely instrumental, also includes Sia’s new song “Original.” Although it was nothing special, the generic song did its job of dragging slight emotion out of me with its strong swells of sound.
Overall, I didn’t find the movie to be either terrible or incredible. The movie was clearly aimed for a much younger audience than myself, and therefore I can’t judge it as completely horrible. Humor is subjective, so not everyone will find something funny solely because someone else did. The movie did its job of providing a storyline, climax, and denouement, but in the end, it was lacking anything out of the ordinary. To love this movie, I would have needed something special, something to keep me engaged and on my toes. Although Dolittle did not provide that for me, it could possibly do that for someone else.
Story by Remy Finn
Photo provided by Wikimedia Commons