Movie Review: Dolittle, exciting but underwhelming

2 years ago Triangle 0

Written by: Isabelle Hendrich, staff writer

*This review contains spoilers.

With many exciting scenes and diverse characters, Dolittle was expected to be a box office hit when it was released on Jan. 17, 2020. However, the film did not exceed its high expectations, even while it was directed by Stephen Gaghan, who is known for his Academy Award winner Traffic.

Based on “The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle” by Hugh Lofting, Dolittle recounts the epic tale of a physician who can talk to animals. Because the Queen Victoria of England is dying, he goes on an adventure to get medicine for her. With a gang of misfit animals and a young boy, Dolittle had “no choice but to embark on this perilous journey.”

Set in the 1900s, Dolittle’s steam-punk style house and boat accurately reflect his character as a bumbling doctor who truly cares for his animals. Dolittle’s brilliance and style can be seen by the many inventions in his house, such as a reinvented toy train hanging from the ceiling that  delivers tea and tools to Dolittle. 

The problem with Dolittle started when re-shooting several of the scenes were required to make the movie more comedic for the movie’s younger audience. One reason for Dolittle’s disjointed theme was its audience. 

Since the movie was directed for adults and young children, the film tried to be adventurous and funny for both, which was its downfall. Dolittle turned out to be neither funny enough for children nor exciting enough for adults.

The humor and adventure in the movie was not cohesive. Most of the jokes were ill-timed and the exciting elements were down played because they contained animals who talked. 

Because of the retakes, the movie was delayed by almost a year. It was originally set to be released in spring of 2019. 

Another reason for the film’s inconsistent theme was that its director, Stephen Gaghen, known for his violence in movies, was not present at the retakes.

Since the retakes also had to be done quickly, the movie also went over budget by more than $25,000,000. Initially it was going to cost $175,000,000 for the whole film, but it surpassed $200,000,000 after the retakes.

Despite these downfalls, Dolittle did succeed in captivating a few with its amazing graphics, story and music. With his Scottish accent, Robert Downey, Jr. brought Dolittle to life. It can be argued that Downey really was Dolittle, with his charisma and nonsense attitude towards humans and animals alike. 

  Other famous actors in the film include Tom Holland, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena and Selena Gomez. Although unseen, these actor’s voices made their animal characters come alive. 

Holland has a history of starring with Downey in several films, including Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers Endgame and Spider-man: Homecoming

Drawing in audiences from the very beginning, Dolittle’s first trailer featured the song, “What a Wonderful World” and portrayed the movie accurately as an emotional, thrilling adventure. 

With an obscure assortment of animals fighting for what is right, Dolittle’s sense of unity is seen through the movie, bringing people (and animals) together.

For “somehow, we just belong together” – Dolittle.

The MPAA rating of Dolittle was PG, Parental Guidance, for some action, rude humor and brief language. 

The main theme of Dolittle was overcoming one’s personal fear for the greater good of helping someone else. Doctor Dolittle defeated his fear of helping animals again since his wife died and Chee-Chee, the gorilla, overcame his fear of adventure to save Dolittle’s life. This is like how in life we have to conquer our fears of judgment to spread the Gospel for God’s glory so that others will come to know Christ.  

*Note: this article expresses the ideas and opinions of the author and are not a reflection of the views of the Triangle or Bryan College as a whole.

Isabelle Hendrich is a communications studies major and missions minor at Bryan College. She is on the cross-country team. Besides running, Isabelle also likes to read and do crafts. She is also a triplet whose siblings, Benjamin and Savannah, are also attending Bryan College.