REVIEW: Dolittle

In the past, I’ve managed to compare Daisy Ridley to a 27-year-old boy, to her face. I’ve also terrified Chris Pratt after threatening to kidnap him. Don’t even get me started on the time I tried to rap Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’ with Jamie Foxx…

(They’re all true stories, FYI.)

And yet, I assume the most horrific moment for me whilst sat face-to-face with an A-lister will be when I panic during an interview* with Robert Downey Jr., and his wife, Susan, and pretend I loved Dolittle when, in reality, it was a steaming pile of fart.

* Just to let you know, Robert Downey Jr. and Susan cancelled the interview a day before I was supposed to meet them, due to what I can only believe was because of poor reviews.

If you didn’t think that fart-remark was high-brow humour, then you, too, are going to loathe Dolittle, as that is, essentially, the entire screenplay.

I can’t help but think that Dolittle is some form of animal cruelty, if not to the CGI creatures, then to Academy Award nominated actor, Robert Downey Jr. and director Stephen Gaghan – the man behind critically acclaimed Syriana. I can only assume they took this project on as a dare.

Dolittle tells the story of a man who, years ago, took the form of Eddie Murphy, but due to a dramatic case of vitiligo, now looks like Tony Stark. After his wife passes away during a voyage, he locks himself away from the outside world. And then, because of reasons, he ends up fisting a dragon.

You think I’m escalating it quickly, but that actually happens in the film. The man known for portraying the iconic comedian Charlie Chaplin, rolled his hand up into a fist, and shoved it up a hydra version of Frances de la Tour. So… Yep.

I appreciate that Dolittle is a family film; I get it. And to keep their mind’s active, there has to be plenty of action and colour and movement. But I almost feel like the team took it to the gazillionth degree here, and chucked in a keg of Red Bull just to shake it up.

The plot seemed so disjointed. After locking himself away, Dolittle is asked by the royal family to help save Queen Victoria as she is dying, and the only way to do that is to sail across the sea, whilst being attacked by pirates, deserted on a Mediterranean island, and then to fight a dragon for a magical fruit. I’m just pleased I have diabetes, and not whatever the crap Queen Vic had, because there’s no way the NHS would do that for me.

In fact, there wasn’t really one portion of the film that made sense. It all just sort of happened. Dolittle had a personal vendetta against a tiger which wasn’t explained; Antonio Banderas welcomed a young boy who was attempting to steal his belongings into his family; and THERE WAS A FUCKING DRAGON FISTING SCENE. I cannot express to you how distressed that moment made me.

I wish it was just the story that seemed to have been formed by a blind man throwing a dart at a board and seeing what plot point it landed on, but the cast was just the same. Don’t get me wrong – when it was first announced that the likes of Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani and Jim Broadbent were joining Robert, my heart began to soar. And to think, we got a Tom Holland and RDJ reunion following his epic demise in Avengers: Endgame? Pfft. Forget my heart; my goddamn ovaries took flight. But upon watching it, all I could ask was… The fuck?

Selena Gomez, a Disney star known for her angelic nature awkwardly played a giraffe who was constantly on run from the law? Whilst her Academy Award-winning partner-in-crime, Marion Cotillard, was cast as a fox with half a line? Meanwhile, there was esteemed, lauded Shakespearean actor, Ralph Fiennes, who made his debut performing onstage at the Royal National Theatre. He was reduced to saying “Ow. My berries”, after he was kicked in the bollocks in a slow-motion sequence. Well, that made ol’ Schindler’s List look like a walk in the park, didn’t it?

Which brings me on to my next topic… Not Schindler’s List; there were zero Nazis in Dolittle, that I’m aware of. The comedy was just so, so, so abysmal. And while I appreciate everyone I’ve ever met has said that about my sense of humour, I can’t help but feel that this film is somehow worse. I sat in a room full of cinema-goers as we watched a screening of the film, and I can honestly say that throughout the entire 101 minute runtime, there wasn’t even a polite smirk from anyone in attendance.

In fact, I cringed on occasion, whether it be because of Tom Holland being forced to say the word “butt” repeatedly, because – y’know – he played a dog, or because there was, as you may already know, A DRAGON WITH ROBERT DOWNEY JR.’s HAND UP ITS ARSE FOR NO APPARENT REASON. You’d have thought that would have been the end of it, but it peaked when said dragon farted on famed Chaplin star, Robert’s face, for roughly 15 seconds. This isn’t a horrible cheese dream. This happened.

Shrek, however, had a lot of the same gags. Mike Myers’ ogre farted and burped repeatedly; there were innuendos; the characters alluded to swearing, and yet that seemed funny in Shrek. Was it because it was released 19 years ago? Or maybe because that was just some of the gags scattered through a very solid story and script? My guess it was – unlike Dolittle – a bit of both. Dolittle relied too heavily on very cheap, very poor quips that I genuinely think children would laugh at. Considering I don’t think I’ve ever farted without giggling, note that not even I found it amusing.

Maybe I’m being too critical. (Just to clarify, I’m not.) There are incredible actors in this film. Despite him standing me up and refusing to be interviewed by me, Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most diverse character actors on screen today, and while his Welsh accent was very hit-and-miss; like you’re playing Gavin & Stacey on double speed, it was a breath of fresh air to see him out of his iconic iron suit, and returning to his quirky characters that made him Hollywood’s biggest asset.

I was also pleasantly surprised with Rami Malek’s performance. It’s all too easy to be removed from a film when you totally recognise a character’s voice actor. Even watching the likes of Toy Story, you can’t help but sit there and go “Yup. That’s Tom Hanks. I can safely say he is not a toy”. But when it came to Rami’s performance as Chee-Chee, the cowardly gorilla (I cannot believe I just said that), I totally fell for it. He didn’t sound like Rami; I actually thought he gave a very good performance, and gave it his all, despite him probably knowing that this film was going to be as crap as it actually was.

If you’re into films with horrific CGI effects, a migraine-inducing plot and enough fart gags to make Blazing Saddles, The Nutty Professor and Step Brothers boycott baked beans, then Dolittle is for you. I have to give it credit where it’s due, however – Dolittle made Cats look like Citizen Kane.

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