Wesley Joyce Contributing Writer
Months after the release of the critically and commercially acclaimed “Avengers: Endgame,” Robert Downey Jr. returns to theaters with the biggest mistake of his career. “Dolittle” follows the story of a recluse, Dr. Dolittle, who sadly lost his wife after an adventure goes wrong within the first minute of the movie, which happened almost as fast as it took me to realize how much of a mistake this movie’s existence is.
The film begins with a beautifully animated prologue that attempts to catch the viewer up to speed with Dolittle’s origin story and where he is now, but then it suddenly turns into one of the most poorly edited, written and acted films ever to be produced.
I’m not sure what to call the movie because it fails at everything it tries to do. The film doesn’t work as a comedy. Each of the movie’s gags is as unfunny as the next. The funniest moment I could think of is the scene where a dragon has to receive an enema administered by Dolittle. The dragon then immediately blows out the most powerful fart ever produced directly into Downey’s face. I found the entire exchange uncomfortable, but jokes about flatulence are always a cop-out.
“Dolittle” also fails at being the swashbuckling adventure that it intends to be, especially when the editing makes it so hard to follow, due to its intolerable fast pace and uninspiring, weak plot. Dolittle has to save Queen Victoria, the Queen of England, who he once knew, but neither the movie nor it’s Disney-esque intro ever fully explain his relationship with her or why he wants to save her in the first place. In fact, none of the characters ever have legitimate reasons for being anywhere. It’s almost comical how some of the characters are brought to where they’re supposed to be for no reason other than the script requires them to be there. The movie will just cut to a location without giving the context of who these characters are or what they are receiving from traveling with Dolittle.
I can’t even call this movie a mystery because the last time I checked, mysteries had to be at least interesting and not boring, which this movie undoubtedly is.
Robert Downey Jr., who is known to be one of the most famous, influential and charismatic actors today, not only fails to carry the film but makes it worse. The accent he uses in the film is terrible. This isn’t as disturbing as the fact that in the first few minutes of the film, you have Dolittle grunting and making noises to communicate with the animals that he lives with. Eventually, the movie “translates” the conversations to English by having them suddenly speak normally. The translation leaves viewers with the impression that in the entire movie, Dolittle is not actually speaking a language, but in reality is banging his chest, grunting and barking at all the animals he talks to for the entire film. It makes the film even more awkward when you realize that the two children accompanying him have to sit there uncomfortably watching a middle-aged man cycle through animal noises for days at a time almost like someone experiencing hallucinations.
“Dolittle” would probably be more entertaining as a film if it was instead a compilation of Robert Downey doing animal impressions for an hour and a half. Lucky for movie-goers, they instead have Universal Pictures throwing a measly $175 million at a film that is living proof that January is a dumping ground for films made by people who have no idea how to make them.