Dolittle is a perplexing film. The concept seems like a knock out, no matter how you do it. It’s about a doctor who can talk to animals and thus go on adventures with them. It really sounds like a can’t-lose idea. But somehow, they lost.
The Robert Downey Jr.-produced Dolittle, for Universal mind you, NOT Disney, is a big fat mess. It’s just a straight up bad movie. It has its moments, yes, but we’ll get to those later. The movie is structurally incomprehensible. From where they are, to what they’re up to, to why things are happening. The best you get is that they’re on their way to the Tree of Knowledge, presumably the one from the BIBLE, to get a cure for the queen of England’s mysterious but obviously perpetrated by her advisors illness. Tree of Knowledge, or Eden Tree as they call it, in order to fix a poisoning… Like what?
The movie spirals from there and is only kept afloat by the charming moments some of the animals get. Every now and then the interactions between them are hilarious. There’s a bit in which the duck, called Dab Dab, thinks celery is forceps. It’s lovely. So cute. But then it is occasionally weirdly dark when, as one example, the ostrich says, “My father was right, I should have been an omelet.” Like that is some existential stuff. These are the only moments that really will hit adults in a way that won’t hit kids.
The last elephant in the room is Downey’s accent. How anybody let him in the door to set using that accent is beyond me. You can’t understand a word that comes out of his mouth. It’s Scottish, but then it’s South African, but then it’s Caribbean. It keeps going on like this and you can never put your finger on it.
Overall, it really is a tough movie to watch. Just the sheer magnitude of mess that it is. It’s one of those movies where you hope the young actors in it aren’t negatively impacted. So anyway, strap in for our deep dive into the dragon-farting mess that that is Dolittle on today’s episode of So…I’m Watching This Show!