Dolittle could have done more

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Robert Downey Jr.’s latest project Dolittle, directed by Stephen Gaghan, received mixed reviews, earning a 17% critics rating and a 75% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Dolittle tells the story of Tommy Stubbins (Henry Collet) who, after injuring a squirrel while hunting with his family, looks for help from the famed Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Junior), renowned for his talent with talking to animals. During his visit, he is in awe of the doctor’s skill and decides to become his apprentice. Unfortunately for him, Dolittle became a recluse after his wife’s death, preferring the company of animals to other people. Despite Dolittle’s best efforts to reject the boy, they both find themselves racing against time to find a cure for the Queen of England’s illness. 

The creators of this film succeeded in making a fun, family-friendly movie, with lovable characters and wonderful visual effects. Though it was marketed as an epic adventure suitable for the whole family, it turned out to be a movie that could only appeal to young children. While the movie did have good moments that earned a few laughs, as a whole, the humor was extremely juvenile and cringeworthy. The movie relied on a lot of slapstick comedy, using absurd situations and exaggerated physical humor that often fell flat. This over the top and off-putting style of comedy was most prominent in the villain’s character. Downey himself mentioned that unlike his other projects, Dolittle was more appropriate for younger audiences and even his children. On the plus side, the doctor’s animal companions were endearing, and the visual effects sold the narrative without distracting from the scene, or the emotions present within it. The film’s aesthetic as a whole was also very appealing to look at, and fueled younger viewers’ imaginations.

It is also worth noting that Downey succeeded in avoiding getting trapped by one character. Dolittle was his opportunity to showcase his acting skills outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he did not disappoint. The supporting cast was also filled with well-known talent, including the likes of Selena Gomez, Tom Holland, and Antonio Banderas. A movie with so many celebrities can be intriguing to fans, but many viewers will be let down if they take it too seriously.