Robert Downey Jr. is back on the scene to give moviegoers the Doctor Dolittle movie they didn’t know they wanted. His new film, simply titled Dolittle, arrives in January and offers a visually dazzling reimagining of the classic literature character.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Doctor Doolittle, he’s the central character in a series of children’s books that began in the 1920s. The stories take place in Victorian England and are about a doctor who can speak to animals. The character has persisted in pop culture, popping up in his own movie and TV series during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Eddie Murphy took on the mantle with his 1998 film, which received several theatrical and straight to video sequels.
Were audiences begging for a Dr. Dolittle reboot? Definitely not. But after his work with Marvel, RDJ has as much pop culture goodwill as any star walking the planet right now. (Especially after Gemini Man’s poor performance this weekend knocked Will Smith down a couple of rungs.)
While this colourful trailer is certainly whimsical, it also feels kind of heavy too. I’m down for any movie where Antonio Banderas shows up wearing guy-liner, but I’m not so sure I want to see a scared gorilla cowering on a battleship. My dog just died, and I’m not ready for this talking animal movie to wallop me with “the feels.” And based on this trailer, it’s a safe bet this Dolittle aims to tug at your heartstrings.
After losing his wife seven years earlier, the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle (Downey), famed doctor and veterinarian of Queen Victoria’s England, hermits himself away behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his menagerie of exotic animals for company.
But when the young queen (Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose) falls gravely ill, a reluctant Dolittle is forced to set sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island in search of a cure, regaining his wit and courage as he crosses old adversaries and discovers wondrous creatures.
The doctor is joined on his quest by a young, self-appointed apprentice (Dunkirk’s Harry Collett) and a raucous coterie of animal friends, including an anxious gorilla (Oscar® winner Rami Malek), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck (Oscar® winner Octavia Spencer), a bickering duo of a cynical ostrich (The Big Sick*’s Kumail Nanjiani) and an upbeat polar bear (John Cena, *Bumblebee) and a headstrong parrot (Oscar® winner Emma Thompson), who serves as Dolittle’s most trusted advisor and confidante.
Dolittle arrives in theatres on January 17, 2020.