Review: ‘Dolittle’ did too little in theaters

“Dolittle,” starring Robert Downey Jr., was a box office nightmare. This highly anticipated movie did not live up to expectations despite a talented cast. 

Alongside Downey was Emma Thompson (Polynesia), Tom Holland (Jip), Selena Gomez (Betsy), Octavia Spencer (Dab-Dab) and Ralph Fiennes (Barry). Each actor had a unique personality to portray within his or her furry characters.  

This film was Downey’s first big appearance on screen since “Avengers: Endgame.” His character, John Dolittle, did not live up to the iconic role of Iron Man. Downey brought very little warmth or emotion to Dolittle. 

The character lacks everything but awkwardness throughout the entire film. 

Downey’s performance seems stifled by the accent he attempts, which was never identified. Dolittle suffers from a tragic backstory of his wife being lost at sea. 

Robert Downey Jr. stars as the title character in Universal Picture’s latest movie, “Dolittle.”

This grievance cuts Dolittle off from the world of humans where he lives in his estate with a variety of animals he rescued. Dolittle does gain human companionship with a young boy called Stubbins (Harry Collett) who becomes his apprentice. 

The rest of the film is awkward, and the jokes are not entertaining. Downey frequently talks to the animals, and they reply mostly by making sounds instead of speaking English. 

Many jokes were attempted, but they were often muddled by Downey’s accent or the seriousness of his character. 

The film displays adventure and magic like any other children’s movie; however, most of the film does not contain original content. 

Many viewers remember the “Dr. Dolittle” film from 1998 starring Eddie Murphy. In that adaptation, Murphy is a doctor who forgot he could talk to animals because of a traumatic childhood experience. 

The comedy is all about Dolittle regaining and accepting his gift and the challenges that come with it. 

Fewer viewers are aware that there was a musical “Doctor Dolittle” released in 1967 starring Rex Harrison (John Dolittle), Samantha Eggar (Emma Fairfax), Anthony Newley (Matthew Mugg) and William Dix (Tommy Stubbins). 

The 1967 film is set in a historical period where Dolittle can speak the languages of all animals. 

Dolittle travels the seas with many companions, one being a young boy called Stubbins. Sound familiar? 

Despite a few plot changes like saving the queen of England and being a widower, the 2020 film is just a copy of the original “Doctor Dolittle.” Unfortunately, the 1967 film did poorly when it first came out as well. That should have been a hint for directors to stop there.

According to, “Dolittle” cost $175 million to produce, and only made $31 million during its four-day opening weekend. “Dolittle” also received an 18% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Downey has been a box office sensation in previous roles, but in “Dolittle,” he’s just monkeying around. 

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