Dolittle

2020

Dolittle

Critics Consensus

Dolittle may be enough to entertain very young viewers, but they deserve better than this rote adaptation's jumbled story and stale humor.

14%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 209

76%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 11,230
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Movie Info

After losing his wife seven years earlier, the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.), 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, Wild Rose) 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 (Dunkirk's Harry Collett) and a raucous coterie of animal friends, including an anxious gorilla (Oscar (R) winner Rami Malek), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck (Oscar (R) winner Octavia Spencer), a bickering duo of a cynical ostrich (The Big Sick's Kumail Nanjiani) and an upbeat polar bear (John Cena, Bumblebee) and a headstrong parrot (Oscar (R) winner Emma Thompson), who serves as Dolittle's most trusted advisor and confidante.

Cast

Robert Downey Jr.
as Dr. John Dolittle
Antonio Banderas
as King Rassouli
Michael Sheen
as Dr. Blair Müdfly
Harry Collett
as Tommy Stubbins
Rami Malek
as Chee-Chee
John Cena
as Yoshi
Jim Broadbent
as Lord Thomas Badgley
Jessie Buckley
as Queen Victoria
Kasia Smutniak
as Lily Dolittle
Carmel Laniado
as Lady Rose
Jason Mantzoukas
as James the Dragonfly
Ralph Ineson
as Arnall Stubbins
Joanna Page
as Bethan Stubbins
Sonny Ashbourne Serkis
as Arnall Stubbins Jr.
Oliver Chris
as Sir Gareth
Clive Francis
as Archbishop
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News & Interviews for Dolittle

Critic Reviews for Dolittle

All Critics (209) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (179)

Audience Reviews for Dolittle

  • 5d ago
    I'm truly not even sure where to start with this one. While I admittedly haven't read any of the children's books or seen the original film from 1967, I quite enjoyed Eddie Murphy's rendition of Dr. Dolittle in 1998 and I enjoyed the 2001 sequel even more. That series went on for far too long, but they were harmless family films. Now, Robert Downey Jr. has taken the mantle as the latest to portray this character and while it seems as though everyone involved was trying to make something special, this is a prime example of all the pieces just not working as a whole. Kids may find some visual enjoyment at times, but this is a very weak film, and here's why. Dolittle picks up years after the events that lead him to isolation when a young boy and his crew of animals (who he often speaks to) embark on a journey to an island that has a flower that can save the life of the Queen. There were multiple times where I found myself wondering who this movie was meant for. Yes, the journey itself and the animals (which all look incredibly fake by the way) will provide some eye candy for young kids, but the premise will bore them to no end. Adults probably won't find themselves invested, as the plot is so thin, to begin with. Dolittle does nothing to impress throughout its entire 100-minute run time. The most frustrating part about this film is that the narration is so descriptive and on the nose that it makes you feel dumb. It's even used in places in order to explain how characters would go from place to place, which felt like it was an easy way to explain 10 minutes of the plot away instead of filming a couple more sequences. On top of that, this film begins with a bit of animation, showcasing how Dr. Dolittle made it to the point in his life that he is throughout this film, but the story beats that are brushed over are far more interesting than anything that happened throughout the course of this movie. His backstory that was explained away would've made for a much more engaging premise, so I felt slightly annoyed that the best stuff was left out. Sure, I'll give credit where credit is due. Quite honestly, I couldn't care less about who is voicing a CGI animal/person/creature in a film, simply because it won't usually make a movie any better or any worse. With that said, from Rami Malek to Ralph Fiennes, the list of talent is endless here. The reason I'm bringing this up is that the highlight of the film for me was actually the Ostrich Plimpton, voiced by Kumail Nanjiani. Although he doesn't get a lot to do, his voice work had me cracking up throughout the movie, as he muttered many things about events happening in front of him. It didn't happen very often, but I got a few laughs out of his work. In the end, this is a journey that really goes nowhere and the best part about the movie is Dr. Dolittle's backstory, which is brushed over in the first few minutes. Robert Downey Jr. is trying very hard to give kids a wacky character to get behind, but it just didn't work for me. I love him as an actor, but this was one of his oddest choices for a character ever. Michael Sheen probably has the best moment in the film as the main villain, as his hammy performance would've had me rolling on the floor laughing if he had more screen time, but I bet he has about 5 minutes total if I were to go back and count. Dolittle has a few promising elements but is ultimately an ugly, joyless adventure film that I just can't recommend.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2020
    Here's the revelation of the new year: I didn't hate Dolittle. In fact, I kind of admire it and mostly enjoyed it. Given the advertising, bad buzz, and mountain of critical pans, I was expecting very little from this movie, so perhaps it chiefly benefited from dramatically lowered expectations, but I feel comfortable going on the record in the Dolittle fan club. Robert Downey Jr. stars as the magical vet and adventurer who can speak with animals, and for the first 15 minutes or so, I was laughing at this movie and shaking my head. There's a moment where Dolittle, a gorilla that just showed its backside while playing chess, and a duck are laughing uproariously in their own languages, and the moment holds awkwardly and it was so weird. After 15 minutes, I began to adjust to the movie's wavelength and I began to appreciate how committed to being weird the movie was. This is not exactly a movie that aims for a safe broad mass appeal, even though it has familiar messages of family, acceptance of loss, and confronting personal fears. It takes chances on alienating humor. You could take any incident from this movie, including its finale that literally involves disimpacting a dragon's clogged bowels, and on paper, without context, it would be the dumbest thing you could imagine. However, when thrown into a movie that never takes itself seriously, that is actively, almost defiantly being weird (a joke about a whale flipping off humans with its fin made me cackle), the things you might mock take on a new charm. Director/co-writer Stephen Gaghan has worked in Hollywood for years and given the world Traffic and Syriana, so he knows his way around working within a studio system. Dolittle at times feels like a live-action Aardman movie with its anarchic spirit. Downey Jr. (Avengers: Endgame) bumbles and mumbles in a thick Welsh accent that he may regret but he's fully committed. Michael Sheen (Good Omens) is a delight as a seafaring antagonist, and he knows exactly what kind of movie he's part of. The animal CGI can be a little dodgy at times for a movie this expensive and not every jokey aside works but enough of them did to win me over. I'm under no illusions that a majority of people will just scoff at Dolittle and never give it a chance, and I thought I was ready to join their ranks, but then a funny thing happened when I sat down to watch the movie and accepted it on its own silly terms. I had fun, and I know there will be others that do as well. It may be a disaster to many but to me it's a beautiful mess. Nate's Grade: C+
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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