I’ll be honest the trailer for this didn’t look great, the only reason I wanted to watch it was because it had talking animals and I also felt that any film had to be better than Eddie Murphy’s attempt at Dolittle from 22 years ago and nothing will match up with Rex Harrison’s from 53 years ago, so I was intrigued to see where on the Dolittle Scale this ends up. Will it be more Rex than Eddie or more flop than form?
Two things that surprised me to begin with. Firstly, I don’t anyone expected Robert Downey Jr’s accent, in fact I think that more people expect the Spanish Inquisition than a Welsh Iron Man! Weirdly it works, well it does after you get used to it. Secondly, I didn’t expect it to be a family adventure film, the trailer didn’t show it as such but it had some good action scenes and plenty for the kids) and immature adults – like me) to laugh at as well. Chases, fights, ship sinking, the obligatory end of level baddy and a race to save the Queen(obviously).
Mr Downey Jr. is supported by legendary actors Michael Sheen, who lets his fun psychoness shine through and Jim Broadbent as well as a surprising appearance by Antonio Banderas, who happily chews up all the scenery around him and has great fun doing it!
And then you have the voice actors, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Selena Gomez, Kumail Nanjiani, Marion Cotillard and Ralph Fiennes, a more eclectic bunch you won’t find but what a superb bunch of actors and actresses who each bring something special to their characters. Though Mr Cena as Yoshi the Polar Bear and Rami Malek as Chee-Chee a Gorilla shine out for me.
I could nit-pick and point out they arrived at Blenheim Palace instead of Buckingham Palace in the film – as someone who is British and knows his London from his Cotswolds, they peeved me a little. Dolittle’s general grumpy behaviour, especially to his apprentice Tommy (Harry Stubbins) goes on a bit too long, but then again Tommy did kind of force himself upon the situation, the equivalent would be a 14 Year Old sitting in my classroom and saying they are there on work experience whether I like it or not and when I try to move them along, the children in my class escape from school and go and grab him from the road and bring him back into school passed all the security and plonk him back in my classroom. I mean to be fair, that’d annoy the heck out of me as well.
But forget about the misplaced palaces and the kid who wouldn’t accept no and focus on the silly fun and interplay between the animals and if Carlsberg ever did baddies then Michael Sheen would pop right out of that can! And you have a fun Saturday afternoon film that kids will love and most adults will find inoffensive. A well-deserved 12/20 for some awesome actresses and actors and some amusing action/adventure set pieces.