By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Now that Robert Downey, Jr has “officially” retired the role of Tony Stark, the gifted and charismatic thespian is free to tackle just about any role that pleases him. For his first post-MCU outing, RDJ has chosen the mad eccentricity if Dr. Dolittle, the man who can coverse with the animals. Downey obviously has much love for the character, as he brings with him a veritable earnestness that transcends mere professionalism. It is that heart and enthusiasm which helps carry this otherwise messy movie that is sure to keep children entertained, but might leaves some adults bewildered or bored.

In this iteration of Dr. Dolittle the good doctor with a fantastic skill has very much retired and shut himself away from the rest of the world. Locked up in his estate the doctor spends most of his time keeping himself and his animal companions occupied with mostly mundane tasks and also plays chess with an anxiety-ridden gorilla named Chee Chee (Rami Malek). After the untimely death of his beloved wife, Dolittle refuses to connect with humanity. However, when Queen Victoria falls gravely ill and calls upon him for help, the brilliant doctor reluctantly agrees to do so. In order to save the fair queen from certain death, Dolittle and his animals must take a perilous sea journey to acquire her cure.

Written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, who co-wrote the script with Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, Dolittle is a fun, wild, but not totally cohesive adventure story with charming whimsy, sometimes hilarious gags, and a few thrills. The story is a little too transparent and cartoonish for its own good, but young children are certain to eat it all up and enjoy the goofiness of it all. Though the movie’s story mostly plays out as expected Gaghan and his writers do come up with a few wild surprises. The movie is often a little too ambitious for its trite plot, Downey’s straight-faced dedication helps sell it all.

The wonderful actor puts much heart and energy into.the character. While making the movie, he may have or may not have realized how weak the story is, but performs as if the material is pure gold. As his antagonist,  Dr. Blair Müdfly, Michael Sheen also.performs with much zeal and great comic timing. The movie also can boast such talents as Antonio Banderas, Jim Broadbent, and Jessie Buckley.

Young actors Harry Collett and Carmel Laniado show much promise with their lovable performances. The voice talents of Rami Malek, Emma Thompson, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, and more all offer fantastic work as tge animals in the movie. Everyone in the film performs with much exuberance and enthusiasm.

I wish I could be a bit more enthusiastic about the movie as a whole, but Dolittle needed a stronger story and more substance. Still, I will recommend this movie for for the young children who will definitely get much enjoyment from this goofy cartoonish affair. It isn’t a film I’d recommend rushing to the theater to see, but a good enough one to enjoy with the kids at home.

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