Darcie checked out Dolittle and found a poorly written bore-fest that even the talents of Robert Downey Jr couldn’t save
Dolittle has finally hit the cinemas in the UK, even with the negative response the film has received I wanted to give it a shot – after all cinema is subjective. Dolittle has huge potential but fails to impress. What could have been a beautiful tale exploring the relationship between humans and animals is, in reality, a poorly written, acted and edited bore-fest. Dolittle attempts to create a whimsical tone but fails to receive even the laughs of children, some jokes are played out to the extent that I ended up feeling awkward and embarrassed for the film.
Dolittle | Universal Pictures
Narrative wise there are glimmers of promise, hints of what could have been. After a short, pointless and poorly animated opening sequence, we join Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) a reclusive doctor with the ability to converse with animals. After an encounter with Stubbins (Harry Collett), an injured squirrel (Voiced by Craig Robinson and Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) Dolittle sets off on an adventure to save Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley). The narrative shows some depth, especially Dolittle’s background and his relationship with his late wife Lily (Kasia Smutniak). There is some clear characterisation of Dolittle and his animal family including Yoshi (John Cena) a polar bear that is always cold, Chee-Chee (Voiced by Rami Malek) an anxious Gorilla, Plimpton (Voiced by Kumail Nanjiani) a cynical ostrich who is always fighting with Yoshi – all of these characters have depth however the film does little to show or explore the depth. This film needed a major re-write before it was camera ready.
Directing wise Dolittle is a mess, the film is full of poor acting, bad line delivery and mismatched shots. The CGI animals looked great at least at the start of the film, however, as the film progresses the animals look more and more animated. You could argue that Dolittle was banking on it’s CGI animals to get people into the cinema however, the days where slightly realistic CGI animals were a cinema visual spectacle are long gone. Having good CGI is no longer a sure-fire way to get ticket sales, after all, CGI that looks realistic is now a Hollywood standard. I get the feeling that Dolittle wants you to look at the CGI animals in the hope that they distract you from the bland narrative, the poor acting and the terrible jokes. As a tactic, this would have worked if just one of the animals was easy to attach to in the way that characters such as The Child (The Mandalorian), or Olaf (Frozen) are, but Dolittle fails to build any connection between the audience and it’s on-screen characters.
There is no denying the amount of work that went into creating this film, the costumes and the locations both CGI and sets are great to look at. It’s so sad when a film fails to invoke a positive reaction especially when you consider the time and passion that went into the production process. However, there are a lot of faults and not many positives which is why Dolittle fails to impress. There were serval elements that I have an issue with such as Stubbins suddenly learning to understand animals, the young age of Lady Rose, the lack of development in Dolittle and Stubbins’ relationship, Polly the parrot comes across as condescending and Lily’s father (Antonio Banderas) could have been her brother age-wise.
Overall Dolittle would have benefited from script re-writes, better direction and better jokes. I would argue that Dolittle could have been split over two films, this would have allowed the narrative and the sheer amount of characters a chance to develop and breathe, which would have created deeper connections with the audience. Sadly, Dolittle is not the remake it could have been and its box office numbers are reflecting that.
Dolittle is distributed by Universal Pictures and is playing in cinemas everywhere NOW.
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Darcie Gray is a new addition to the Future of the Force roster. Aside from being a passionate Star Wars fan, she loves every genre of movies and she channels her passion for film into her personal blog Just Another Film Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Darcie_Letitia where she shares her love of film regularly.