Yesterday, Kayleigh told the story of the original 1967 Dr. Dolittle, summing up the disaster of the movie’s production with the sublime quote: ‘the giraffe stepped on his cock’. That sounds marvelously more enjoyable than the experience of actually watching 2020’s Dolittle , which is a catastrophic waste of time for a murderer’s row of talent.
Robert Downey Jr. has been rumored to have wanted to make this movie for decades, and called in every favor he stocked up with the Iron Man years to get it made. I really wanted to say that he neglected to call in any of those favors for an actual writer and director, but this fetid floating CGI garbage scow was written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, who gave us Traffic and Syriana back before he disappeared for a decade.
Pacing is one of those things you don’t notice unless something is very very wrong with a movie. This movie is only a hundred minutes long and manages to simultaneously feel ludicrously too short and excruciatingly too long. It takes a full fifty minutes before the obligatory ‘adventure’ even starts, meaning the first half of the movie is like paint drying, while the last half frantically tries to cram in an entire movie.
None of what it actually does cram in is worth the electricity it took to light the green screen. Everything’s urgent and none of it matters. The stakes don’t matter. The characters don’t matter. The story doesn’t matter. The movie’s greatest accomplishment is being a perfect vision of accidental nihilism. When you stare into the Dolittle, the Dolittle stares back.
Or maybe that’s just the dragon’s asshole. Yes, the entire climax of the movie is fixing a dragon’s impacted bowel by pulling stuff out of its butthole. And by “stuff,” I mean gleaming suits of armor. Because apparently dragon’s shit not only doesn’t smell, it shines.
And what about RDJ’s accent? That weird nasally voice he does in the trailer, “issss okaaaay to be afraaaaaait”, he affects that weirdness the entire movie. Is he trying to do a Welsh accent? If so, I think the Welsh could file charges at the Hague for this affront.
Ooh, let’s talk for a moment about the movie’s treatment of women. Leaving aside the animal characters since they’re entirely ungendered other than by the choice of whether to make an actor or an actress dribble out the idiotic lines, there are only three female characters in the movie. One is fridged in the prologue, the other is unconscious the entire movie, and the spunky teenage princess who solicits Dolittle’s help? Is told to stay behind and given the single order to prepare all the unconscious queen’s food personally to make sure she isn’t poisoned. Literally women are good for three things in this movie: motivatingly dead, unconscious in bed, or in the kitchen. Fucking wow.
Also consider this, Dolittle is summoned because the Queen is dying. Right. That’s the hook for this train wreck. Parse this out now very carefully: the human queen is dying, and obviously the only one who can possibly help is the kingdom’s renowned animal doctor. Queen’s sick, call the vet. Ok, Victorian Fox News.
But don’t worry, the random teenage boy in the story gets to go along. Why? Someone told Downey that kids movies are supposed to have kids in them I guess, for all the actual plot purpose he serves. His entire character is a British accent and can-do spirit, which to be fair, is how America got started too.
This movie is an abominable black hole of creativity and talent that should never have been made. But don’t worry, I normally go to new releases on Friday mornings because then there are only three people in the whole theater, and my misanthropy is appeased. This movie was completely full. At eleven am on a Friday. Which means that I’m going to be reviewing a sequel in three years.
Header Image Source: Universal Pictures