Dolittle is a 2020 American fantasy adventure film directed by Stephen Gaghan, based on the Doctor Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting. It was theatrically released in the United States on January 17, 2020 by Universal Pictures.
Dr. John Dolittle lives in solitude behind the high walls of his lush manor in 19th-century England. His only companionship comes from an array of exotic animals that he speaks to on a daily basis. But when young Queen Victoria becomes gravely ill, the eccentric doctor and his furry friends embark on an epic adventure to a mythical island to find the cure.
- Crude humor throughout the film.
- One big example is an inappropriate scene where Dr. Dolittle literally pulls objects like a bagpipe out of a dragon's butt.
- There is hardly any plot, which makes the film very confusing. In fact, many of the subplots are never resolved.
- Poor acting, even from Robert Downey Jr, which is inexcusable because he gave a great performance in both the Iron Man movies and the Avengers movies.
- Robert Downey Jr. does a poor job in doing a Welsh accent for his character.
- Also, most of the animals' voice actors sound almost bored.
- Pointless one-liners from the talking animals, some of which are too modern for Victorian England.
- Sound mixing is pretty bad.
- The characters are rather bland and forgettable.
- Stephen Gaghan, who is known for directing gritty films such as Syriana, was a poor choice to direct the film.
- Following poor test screenings due to Stephen Gaghan's original script's gritty tone, director Jonathan Liebesman orchestrated 21 days of reshoots, which took a toll on the film's budget. He also hired Chris McKay to help write new material after it became clear from first cuts that the comedy elements of the film were not coming together as well as the producers had hoped.
- There is a cartoonish-looking dragonfly that looks completely out-of-place in comparison to the more realistic animals.
- Solid visual effects.
- An excellent score from veteran composer Danny Elfman.
- The film is more faithful to the original stories than Dr. Dolittle (1998).
- The ending song "Original" by Sia is pretty good, even though this was the only song featured in this movie.
- The opening sequence is solidly animated.
- The story can be a bit unpredictable sometimes.
- Robert Downey Jr. made this movie as a passion project, so you can't be too harsh on something that someone dreamed so long to do.
Dolittle has received negative reviews from critics, mainly due to the stale humor, pacing, and incoherent story, including 13% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 27 on Metacritic. Rotten Tomatoes' consensus was that the film says, "Dolittle may be enough to entertain very young viewers, but they deserve better than this rote adaptation's jumbled story and stale humor".
However, the film had mixed reception from audiences, including a "B" from Cinemascore; and a 4.5 (from families) and 2.5 (from General Audiences) from PostTrak.
The film's budget has been estimated at $175 million. On its opening weekend, Dolittle opened in third place with $21,844,045. Universal is estimated to lose between $50 to $100 million.
- Robert Downey Jr. had considered the film to be a passion project.