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“DOLITTLE” Adventure for the Whole Family





Review by John M. Delia, Jr.

A fun family film Dolittle comes to local theaters with an exciting adventure, characters and storyline. Nicely played by Robert Downey Jr. as Dr. Dolittle, direction by Oscar winner Stephen Graham and with some amazing CGI, it’s a winner. Even if you’re not a youngster the movie spreads that feel-good satisfaction to any age. Make sure you watch this one at a local theatre with their big screens so you get the complete effect and enjoyment.

The story opens with Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) still depressed over the loss of his wife Lilly (voice of Kasia Smutniak) while she was on an expedition. Knocking on the door of his secluded estate, young Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) comes to ask Dolittle if he will heal a squirrel he had accidently shot. Displaying his self-imposed grumpy and standoffish attitude, he tries to turn the boy away. Just in time Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) enters in a tizzy that Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) has taken ill and is asking Dolittle to come to Buckingham Palace to help heal her. It’s the beginning of an adventure that will take Dolittle, his animal family and Tommy Stubbins to the ends of the earth to find a special flower for an elixir that will save the Queen. Standing in their way are the deceitful Dr. Blair Mudfly (Michael Sheen) the untrustworthy Lord Thomas Badgley (Jim Broadbent) and the dastardly King Rassouli (Antonio Bandaras).

(from left) Gorilla Chee-Chee (Rami Malek) and Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) in “Dolittle,” directed by Stephen Gaghan.From Universal Pictures

Director Stephen Gaghan, who has won two Oscars for his work, takes control of the film and it’s a doozy. Working with a ridiculous number of star players as animals that can only be created in a computer, he turns the impossible into amazing. Think about Gaghan working on a set with Robert Downey Jr. and both using their imaginations so that every movement, dialogue and facial expression reflects the response and reaction of the CGI animal characters? Well, seamlessly and as if they are on the same stage they make it a reality for the big screen. It’s a wonder the two or anyone else in the scene can sleep at night. But, it’s the movie world of today and Gaghan and his cast are totally incredible for every scene. It took $178 million to make and every bit of it shows in this brilliant motion picture.

Already stated Robert Downey Jr. does a terrific job as the Doctor who can talk to animals. He works his own magic of acting delivering his character as if the animals are really with him in every scene. He’s good at the offhanded comedy he’s famous for in most all of his films, from Sherlock Holmes to Avengers, and that’s important as it enhances the storyline. It’s a very different performance from his serious side in the 1990’s, but one that I feel has made him the star he is today.

(from left) Polar bear Yoshi (John Cena), Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) and gorilla Chee-Chee (Rami Malek) in “Dolittle,” directed by Stephen Gaghan. From Universal Pictures

In support Antonio Bandaras makes the perfect antagonist playing the angry father-in-law King Rassouli who was against Dolittle marrying his daughter Lilly. When Lilly lost her life to an angry sea, he vowed to never speak to Dolittle again. When he shows up at his door, Dolittle has to find a way to get back in his graces in order to find the elixir to save Queen Victoria. It’s Bandaras at his vengeful best and his Rassouli provides a fine opponent for Dolittle to win over.

If there’s one family film you should see this year, I suggest Dolittle. And for the best experience see it in either IMAX or Dolby Cinema if available in your community. The film has been rated PG for some action, rude humor and brief language, but most of it will probably go over the head of the very young.

Antonio Banderas as Rassouli in “Dolittle,” directed by Stephen Gaghan. From Universal Pictures

FINAL ANALYSIS: It’s a great start for 2020 a movie for everyone. (5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, , Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard, Jim Broadbent,
Directed and written by: Stephen Gaghan Oscar Winner for Syriana and Traffic
Genre: Family
MPAA Rating: PG for some action, rude humor and brief language
Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.
Opening Date: January 17, 2020
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Released in: Theaters, Standard, IMAX, Dolby Cinema

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