In most cases every time they remake a film it becomes weaker. The original Doolittle with Rex Harrison was a decent film (not great but watchable). Then in the 1990s and early 2000s came a couple of films with Eddie Murphy which were not as good. Now in 2019 came Robert Downey Jr. as Doolittle. Though it seems like a case of perfect casting still the downward trend continues.
Robert Downey Jr. is not the only big name in the cast as many of the animals in the film are voiced by big names like Emma Thompson, Selena Gomez, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Tom Holland, Octavia Spencer, Marion Cotillard, and Ralph Fiennes. As well as some actually on screen like Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent and Antonio Banderas. Loads of talent but in the end that does not make up for what is lacking like being based on a silly story and
Dr. John Dolittle (played by Robert Downey Jr.) has learned, through study, how to talk to animals of all types and even insects. This skill has leant to his job as a veterinarian/doctor, a renowned one. He had worked for years and now, after the death of his beloved wife, has settled into retirement. Because of his reputation for accomplishing the seemingly impossible he is called out of retirement to help Queen Victoria (played by Jessie Buckley).
To help her Dolittle needs to get his hands on a particular fruit located in a nether region of the planet. To accomplish that he is helped by a gang of animals like a parrot (voiced by Emma Thompson), a gorilla (voiced by Rami Malek) as well as his human assistant, Tommy (played by Harry Collett).
All the talent involved and it is largely wasted. Despite all the funny animals and whimsical nature of the film, underneath that is a dud. A dud due to a lack of story (stringing together funny things that animals do or say is not enough) and dialogue which is terrible. Yes, you can gear things towards kids but even they have a limit. Then there is the fact that a lot of the bad lines are delivered in a terrible attempt at a Welsh accent by Downey Jr. Spoilt icing on the top of an overbacked cake.
The up side of the film is the way it looks and sounds. First off, the cinematography here is fantastic. Especially the stuff which happens on the high seas. Another plus is the wonderful, playful and note perfect score by Danny Elfman. Both of these elements deserved better from the rest of the film.
After all is said and done, this is totally a family film. A film in which ages 1 to 101 can watch. Whether any of these ages will enjoy it, that is another story.