Dolittle film review: bizarre relic

Robert Downey Jr as Dr John Dolittle and Emma Thompson voices Polynesia the parrot.
Robert Downey Jr as Dr John Dolittle and Emma Thompson voices Polynesia the parrot.

WHILE no animals were harmed in the making of the latest big screen iteration of Dr Dolittle, the same cannot be said for the audience.

Robert Downey Jr appears as the titular role, sporting a terrible and almost unintelligible Welsh accent and off-kilter mannerisms that aim for eccentric but end up annoying.

Since the death of his wife Lily (Kasia Smutniak), Dolittle has hidden away in his royal-appointed manor with the menagerie of animals he has learnt to communicate with for company.

Two children come knocking on his door and one Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) asks Dolittle to help the dying Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley).

Soon he and the other child Stubbins (Harry Collett) are off on a voyage to find a mythical island and bring back a magical fruit, the only thing that can save the queen.

Dolittle feels like a relic of a bygone era; the human female characters are either dead, dying or inexplicably left at home while an island of vaguely Spanish villainous bandits is particularly on the nose.

The pantomime villain of the piece is no other than renowned Welsh actor Michael Sheen doing an impeccable English accent, just further highlighting the bizarreness of Downey’s mumblings.

Visually the cast of animated animals are well done but the heavy reliance on these characters using modern slang, despite the 19th century setting, for comedic value gets tired very quickly.

Dolittle just about functions as a narrative, but without one iota of originality it feels like a waste of time and talent for all involved.

Dolittle (PG)

Director: Stephen Gaghan

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Michael Sheen, Emma Thompson

Two stars

Now showing

More Lifestyle

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon film review – shear joy