Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Dolittle (2020)

There seem to be a lot of movies lately that are meant to test the waters.  Maybe they’re setting up a TV show.  There might be a sequel planned.  It could be that the movie is an expensive advertisements for toys or dolls.  I don’t think this movie fits into any of those categories.  I think that somewhere along the line, someone had to say to an actor, “Yeah… I know.  I know… But you have one more movie in your contract.”

The story of Dr. Dolittle is fairly well known, even if it’s on a basic level.  It’s about a doctor that can talk to animals.  In this instance, Dr. John Dolittle and his wife are given a plot of land by Queen Victoria.  The two live there and treat all manner of animals until his wife dies.

The story begins years later when Tommy Stubbins accidentally shoots a squirrel.  Polly, a rather intelligent parrot, leads Tommy to Dolittle’s property, where he meets Carmel Laniado.  Carmel has been sent by Queen Victoria to summon Dolittle, as she’s fallen ill.

Carmel and Tommy find the house in disarray.  Dolittle has given up doing much of anything since the death of his wife.  He becomes motivated again when Carmel informs him that the property reverts to the Crown upon the death of The Queen.

So, Dolittle, Tommy and several animals have to find a book that contains the location of a magical fruit that can cure The Queen.  Of course, they’ll have setbacks and save her just in time.  Of course, what else would you expect from a family-friendly story that’s been done already?

“Done already” about sums it up.  There wasn’t anything particularly new or interesting in the movie.  It was sort of like someone took a pilot episode for a TV series and decided to make into a movie without really changing the script.

There’s very little character development and what development there is comes in very small increments.  Dolittle is a recluse who sort of learns to deal with people again after being nudged in that direction.  Chee-Chee is a scared gorilla that eventually manages to find some courage at exactly the right moment.

There’s not a lot of major violence.  In fact, when the squirrel is shot, I don’t remember seeing a lot of blood.  It might have been there, but I honestly don’t recall seeing any.  There are a few tense scenes, but everyone comes out all right.  It’s about as PG as I’ve seen in recent years.

I remember someone talking about the Sears/K-Mart merger, saying that you can’t combine two mediocre companies and get a better company out of it.  You’re just going to get a larger mediocre company out of it.  I find that this is the case with this movie.

I like Robert Downey, Jr.  I like a lot of the actors who voice the animals.  Everything about the movie is adequate.  I just don’t think that there are too many inspired elements to the movie.  It’s like someone was going to great pains to hit the all the marks exactly.  Nothing spectacular.  It’s like the goal was to make the most basic adaptation possible.  This is exactly the kind of movie you might show in middle school or high school if there’s a free day and you need something rather vanilla.


1 comment :

Sean said...

The trailers for this one were uninspiring and your review is probably the most positive one I have come across. I think you nailed your description of something vanilla to show on a free day. That's probably what will be required for us to watch it.