Cinematic Releases: Dolittle (2020) - Reviewed

When you see that Robert Downey Jr. is playing a beloved fictional character you will have one of two reactions, instantly get crabby and think that Hollywood is reviving a character yet again in a greedy little cash grab or you'll get excited because he's Robert Downey Jr. and he's pretty much excellent in every part he's done (no that does not mean that I think he deserved an Oscar for Endgame). I'm in group B, there is very little he's done in his career that I haven't at the very least enjoyed his performance, and a few that I will never shut up about how brilliant he was (I'm looking at you Chaplin).

It's amazing when you get to go to a screening for a kids movie and instead of just a theater full of less than thrilled press, you get a theater full of children, the intended audience for the film. I'll happily admit that I spent a good deal of time listening to the reactions of the kids while taking in the film and making my own decisions about it. To be quite honest, my opinion comes second in this review because while I do know enough about film to tear most of them apart and analyze them till I have anxiety attacks, those kids were the real reviewers. If their reactions were any measure, this movie is a massive success. The kids were laughing and screaming and a few even cried when they were supposed to and best yet, as we were all leaving the general buzz from the kids was that they can't wait to see it again. So there you have it. The most important thing I can say about this movie is: take your kids. They are going to love it. Now on to the tedious movie review part of my movie review.

No one in this film is going to win an Oscar for it, well maybe the CGI guys. The acting is good, it tells the story very well and takes you on a good ride, but this movie isn't about award winning acting performances, it's about having fun. That is what this movie pulls off in spades. It's damn fun. The story is loaded with tropes but it also makes a few choices that I thought were pretty brave and led to an unexpected climax. The voice acting is exactly what you'd expect when you cast Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani,Selena Gomez, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson and Ralph Fiennes as the voices of the animals, perfect, they are absolutely perfect. Most of the comedy is carried by the voice cast and even some of the drama and character building. Let me also point out that having Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent and Tommy Stubbins as your supporting cast, the non CG performances will also be pretty darn good. 

Visually, I hate saying this, we've seen it before, it has the same weight as many of the Disney type adventure movies of the last couple of decades, which isn't a bad thing, they are well shot and at times beautiful. It's just that it feels same-ish. Yes, color palettes change as the story progresses. It just doesn't have anything that takes your breath away. That's not a horrible thing. I just think it might have added to the experience.

The story surprised me. It wasn't what I went in expecting. This is not a remake. I repeat. this is not a remake, it's a brand new story with Dolittle as the protagonist (mostly). It's more adventure than character piece, with none of the goofiness of that forgettable Eddie Murphy version. The adventure takes you places you won't expect and has more heart than i dared to hope for.

I can't say i loved this movie. But I did really enjoy it it was a very good way to spend a couple of hours, have a few laughs and go home feeling a little better about the world. Who doesn't need that these days?

Trevor West