Isn't it interesting that Hollywood can take a classic book, and kinda just keep screwing it up? The original 'Doctor Dolittle' wasn't one I particularly liked, myself, but it does have its following. Then we have the Eddie Murphy remakes that might have been fun as a kid, but are hard to go back on. And now, we have this, which may be the worst attempt yet. I mean, to be honest, I've never actually read the book, but it does seem abundantly clear that the original version is a stand-alone classic of sorts, and doesn't really need to be revisited.
Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.), after losing his wife, has since kept himself hidden from the world, amongst his beloved animals, Each animal is representative of an otherwise promising voice cast, that includes Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, and several more. One day, he is approached by a boy named Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), who implores him to help a squirrel (Craig Robinson), eventually forming a friendship with him.
When Queen Victoria falls ill, Dolittle is approached by a young girl, representing the Queen. He is asked to set sail to an untouched island, to find a cure that apparently only exists there. Taking his animals, and Tommy along for the ride they encounter old adversaries, finding himself again along the way. Meanwhile, Tommy slowly learns Dolittle's talent for talking to animals, himself.
Trust me when I say that this is much worse than I might make it out to be, potentially becoming a front-runner for worst film of 2020, according to yours truly. I know it's early, but there are several reasons to reach such a conclusion. For starters, it ends up being one of those kids movies that tries very hard to be "cool", completely ruining a period piece by saying words like "bro" to try to relate to the kids. To compare it to other movies that have tried this, 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' or 'The Smurfs' come to mind.
It seems to be something Hollywood can't quite wrap their heads around - never assume that you know what's cool for kids. The best movies for kids out there never try so hard to be culturally hip, they just tell a really good story. If you want proof, look at the 'Toy Story' trilogy, or even better yet, 'The Iron Giant', which takes place in the 50's. Unfortunately, the biggest problem is, this is about all there is for kids in theaters right now.
Beyond that, we get toilet humor out the wazoo (no pun intended), and just terribly written dialogue for these animals. I heard it said best that it's as though they let all these voice actors in, let them all adlib where they could, each with their own completely separate act, and then it all gets thrown together. The film is kinda just loud and obnoxious, and makes absolutely no sense for the fine period piece it ought to be. I'm saying this aware of what I just mentioned about Victorian Era stuff in my 'Little Women' Oscar review, but I can at least respect it for what it is.
It also has no idea who its trying to speak to. It's a silly mess that little kids could potentially have fun with, but they try a lot of adult humor here as well. The whole thing feels like too many ideas at once all coming together, and the finished project is an unfortunate mess. It's early, but this one unfortunately stands the chance of being one of the worst films of the year.