Both of my kids were very excited to see this latest iteration of Dr. Dolittle, so I took them on my day off. I’d heard some negative reviews which gave me trepidation, but, honestly, how bad could it be? It stars Robert Downey, Jr., after all. If nothing else, at least I’d get to enjoy him.
Well, let’s be clear–my kids loved it. That’s all that really matters in a children’s movie, right? And, to be fair, the computer animation is very, very good. There’s never a moment when some sort of animated creature isn’t on the screen, and, for the most part, they all look great. Sure, there are moments when they appear particularly unfettered by gravity or … reality, but that’s to be expected in CGI films like this.
Furthermore, there are some very big, fun names in Dolittle. John Cena, Rami Malek, Emma Thompson, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, Craig Robinson, and even Selena Gomez lend their voice talents to the numerous creatures throughout the film. Each of them portrays a very distinct personality that my kids had no trouble deciphering.
There are some impressive live-action actors in the movie as well, namely Antonio Banderas and Michael Sheen.
And then, of course, there’s Robert Downey, Jr. We love RBJ as Tony Stark, obviously, but let’s not forget that he has several other notable roles, nominations, and awards under his belt.
Dolittle sadly features a decidedly disconnected Robert Downey, Jr. I mean that quite literally. There’s something very weird about his voice in this movie. First of all, it just doesn’t sound like him. I don’t mean just that he’s doing some kind of strange accent (he is), but his voice is virtually unrecognizable. Additionally, it’s hard to both hear and understand him. His voice doesn’t seem to exist in the actual environment. It’s almost as though they took a sound booth performance, laid it over the track, but then forgot to mix it in with the background sounds. It doesn’t feel organic to the scenery. It feels … disconnected. Does that make sense?
His body language is also uncharacteristic. He’s very subdued and almost … inanimate. They also chose strange moments to film him with his back to the camera as he spoke. Nothing about this performance seemed typical of Robert Downey, Jr. at all, and that’s unfortunate.
Finally, I can honestly say I’ve never seen an ending quite like the one featured in Dolittle. I’m not implying it’s a good ending, a logical ending, or even a tasteful ending, but it is certainly original.
Truthfully, though, my opinion doesn’t really matter. My kids loved it, it’s a movie for kids, so there you have it.