Dolittle is back in another guise and this time it’s a traumatised Robert Downey Jr – complete with Welsh accent – who is on hand to talk to the animals. Stephen Gaghan’s Dolittle introduces audiences to Doctor Dolittle after the death of his wife, a fellow adventurer who set off on an exploration and was lost at sea.
Since that loss, Dolittle has become a recluse with only the animals for company. He spends his days listening to their problems and trying to help them but when a couple of young humans manage to make their way in he reluctantly agrees to help them. It’s not like he can turn down the queen herself who is gravely ill and in need of his help.
The quest takes the doctor back to the sea with some of his many animal friends in search of a very special piece of land that holds a possible cure to what ails the queen. With great voice actors for the animals (including Emma Thompson, Tom Holland, Rami Malek, John Cena, Octavia Spencer and Kumail Nanjiani) and a human cast who are all suitably entertaining, Dolittle is certainly able to bring the fun and adventure, especially for littler film fans. There are pantomime-esque villains and general perils of life at sea and all while the good doctor learns that human interaction isn’t all bad.
Emma Thompson’s narration and the parrot she voices easily steal the show but there are great laughs to be had with the other animals, too, as they deal with all manner of physical and mental health issues – some more gross than others! The film does a really good job of acknowledging issues with courage, doubt and friendship in perhaps the most unlikely of places and it does so in a child-friendly way.
Overall, Dolittle is great fun for all the family, full of wonder and adventure, and it brings with it a great message of friendship against the odds. It’s all very silly and with such mild peril that even the more sensitive of viewers are likely to enjoy it.