Just What the Family Ordered

“Dolittle” Movie Review


Universal Pictures, press release, fair use

An early screening of “Dolittle” at the AMC Boston Common movie theater on January 11, 2020.

Matthew Lyons, Digital Team

After hanging up his “Iron Man” mask, Robert Downey Jr. is back, this time with a different name, accent, and some new furry friends.

“Dolittle” is directed by Stephen Gaghan and stars Robert Downy Jr. as Dr. John Dolittle, Emma Thompson as Polynesia, John Cena as Yoshi, and Craig Robinson as Fleming. The story is centered around an aged Dr. John Dolittle, alone in a luxurious estate with nothing but the company of his animals, which he can speak to and understand.

Universal Pictures

Dr. Dolittle was originally a children’s book written by Hugh Lofting. It was later adapted to film, starring Rex Harris as Dr. Dolittle. And in 1998, it was adapted to a film series with Eddie Murphy as the titular character.

By the end of the film you feel like you know each and every animal that was in the film and feel faint from laughing so hard.

— Matthew Lyons

The current cast in this film version is outstanding, with witty and funny banter between each species of animals. Each animal speaks to one another as humans would. Some are grumpy and quiet, while others are loud and sarcastic.

While everyone does a great job, the standout of this film is Craig Robinson. Robinson, mostly known for his role as Daryl in the TV show “The Office,” plays Fleming, a vengeful squirrel who wants to exact revenge on the human that accidentally shot him. The character is hysterical. Every line he has is laugh-out-loud funny and perfectly delivered.

But the reason I was drawn to this movie was because of Robert Downey Jr and he didn’t disappoint. Downey is captivating as Dolittle, showing his talent and range as an actor.  After a monumental, career-defining role like Iron Man, most actors might not have been able to convince audiences that they were anyone else.

Luckily for audiences, Downey completely transforms himself into the eccentric doctor. Downey is able to transform his normal showstopping and charismatic personality to a humble and sensitive one. He portrays a surprisingly grounded and more serious Dolittle than previous iterations, and while at first staggering, he is a nice contrast to the loud and over-the-top personalities of the animals.

Despite the movie’s strengths, “Dolittle” has a weak plot and some of the CGI (Computer-Generated-Imagery) in the beginning is a little jarring. But the jokes are great and the pacing of the less than two hour movie allows for a great movie experience. The filmmakers wasted little time on exposition, giving more time for character development. By the end of the film you feel like you know each and every animal that was in the film and feel faint from laughing so hard.

“Dolittle” has a lot of heart. Its new, slightly more realistic interpretation, allows for the viewers to relate to the characters and their struggles

Despite its lackluster trailers and little buzz about the film, this film is great. Audiences may be weary of this new interpretation of the character, but they shouldn’t be. “Dolittle” is an eccentric, wonderful, and funny ride. It surprisingly balances serious themes like loss and depression with hilarious animals and heartwarming friendships.

The film is a perfect family film, with heart, humor, and great messages of friendship and determination. I would recommend this film to animal lovers, comedy lovers, and Robert Downey Jr. fans. I guarantee that everyone that sees this film will try to talk to at least one animal.