If you’ve waited until Dolittle became available at home to see it, you’ll know the experience of having a lit bag of horseshit delivered right to your doorstep. Forget about sanitizing your hands, this movie will make you want to rub that Purel right into your eyeballs. Unfortunately, once you see this calamity, it will seep into your brain like tomato sauce into tupperware–permanently stained and ugly. I watched in horror as hundreds of millions of dollars flew across the screen in a maddening whirlwind of wasted acting talent, clumsy CGI, and sitcom jokes so banal–so miserably unfunny–they make Eddie Murphy’s take on this character look like something from Noël Coward.
Dolittle follows the mold of Will Ferrell’s Holmes & Watson, wherein the filmmakers take familiar, beloved material and dry hump it for nearly two straight hours. Long ago–you won’t really care when–a legendary doctor named Dolittle (Ugh…Robert Downey Jr.) could speak to animals. He and his wife (Kasia Smutniak) traveled the world, helping creatures great and small. The Dolittles also amassed a platoon of animals to tagalong, mainly so they could bounce fart jokes off each other.
Somewhere along the way–again, you won’t really care when–tragedy strikes when Mrs. Dolittle bites the dust. This sends the doctor into a terrible spiral of grief and self-imposed isolation. Think Howard Hughes via Jim Fowler. But just like the MiniDisc revolution, Dolittle’s withdrawal can’t last forever. Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) has taken ill, and she needs the doctor and his four-legged assistants to seek a cure. So….from this brittle diving board, we plunge into the swimming pool of the movie’s plot–which mainly consists of dry, sun-kissed concrete.
For most of this stinkbomb’s runtime, I couldn’t figure out what was the worst thing about it: RDJ’s Welsh accent or the CGI work on the animals. Or maybe the ocean backdrops? Or the oddly anachronistic jokes from the animal cast? It doesn’t really matter, because trying to pick out your least favorite thing about this movie is like trying to pin down your all-time favorite venereal disease. Why should anyone have to choose? Just take your penicillin and make better choices next time.
Dolittle represents the kind of movie I despise. It has all the money in the world. Oscar-winners in almost every scene. Instant box office credibility. And this is what we get? Really?? Put it another way: Would you rather have lesser-known filmmakers giving you everything they have? Or all-stars coasting in neutral and cashing paychecks? I usually don’t pose this many questions in my reviews, but few movies have filled me with such burning curiosity as Dolittle.
In the midst of all this ranting, I have to say I don’t fault the actors. No, not even Robert Downey Jr. If I got paid the Scrooge McDuck money he does, I’d put on a pair of granny panties and do the Electric Slide in Times Square for forty straight hours. That lenience also extends to Tom Holland, Rami Malek, Ralph Fiennes, and even the Tony-winning Francis de La Tour, who plays a fire-breathing dragon who desperately needs to rip a big ol’ fart. Yes. Yes, you read that correctly.
It may seem like I’m being harsh on this movie. Maybe even a little snarky. My first counter would be that Dolittle is terrible, and it deserves every thesaurus word I’ve chucked at it. Secondly–wait, did I just type “secondly”? Jesus Christ in a bean field, this review has come to words like that. Ah, screw it. Secondly, I speak bluntly so you won’t see this movie. Help me help you. You want a good movie with talking animals? Rewatch Babe. It’s one long cinematic hug. Otherwise, you’ve been warned: The next knock on your door might just reveal a sizzling bag of charred poop.
101 min. PG.