Robert Downey, Jr. Channeling “Not Eddie Murphy”
From the trades:
Robert Downey Jr. electrifies one of literature’s most enduring characters in a vivid reimagining of the classic tale of the man who could talk to animals: Dolittle.
After losing his wife seven years earlier, the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle (Downey), 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® winner Rami Malek), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck (Oscar® 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® winner Emma Thompson), who serves as Dolittle’s most trusted advisor and confidante.
Two things about this right off the bat:
- How many more hipster versions of Wonderful World do we have to hear?
- Downey, Jr. has clearly moved on from Iron Man.
CGI Animals Have Come A Long Way
Looks like Universal working diligently to correct the mistakes that make live-action film so atrocious looking with the CGI effects of animals talking, but it’ll be one or two more films before they knock it out of the park.
Other than that, there’s very little here—even with the dragon at the end—that is even remotely interesting for an adult.
And why did they have to show so much in the trailer?
Will This Have Legs At the Box Office, Though?
Well, who really knows. Though I’m betting it will break even globally enough to encourage Universal to make it a franchise tentpole.
With competition like The Rise of Skywalker and Frozen II around, the box office possibilities will be interesting in a month with a dearth of family-oriented fare.
Dolittle comes to theaters on January 17, 2020.