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71. Dolittle; movie review

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Title : 71. Dolittle; movie review
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Cert PG
101 mins
BBFC advice: Contains mild threat, rude humour

At first, I thought he was trying to take off Robin Williams' Mrs Doubtfire or even Ben Kingsley's Gandhi and then I realised, Robert Downey Jr. had turned Dr Dolittle into a Welshman.
Frankly, I thought he was more adept at speaking gorilla, polar bear or duck but then I turned to a greater authority for its view.
Wales Online's verdict is: "In places, it's shocking but not overall as bad as you'd expect.
"In fact, the actor clearly swotted up on the dialect, dropping in random phrases like "tidy" and "mun" along with "I'll be there in a minute now" and "twty down".
"He gets the warm sonorous tones of south Wales to a tee in places, although, when given more than a few short lines to speak the accent starts to waver alarmingly, taking in Scottish, Irish and even Indian."
Why am I going on about Downey Jr's speech? Because it was a welcome distraction from the rest of the film.
I am sad to say that Dolittle is tosh - another example of a major studio making pots of money from a beloved character without having to try very hard.
The lack of ambition in its plot is hard to excuse considering its $175m budget.
It sees Dolittle (Downey) as a recluse following the death of his wife in a mansion leased from a young Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley).
She sends a maid of honour (Carmel Laniado) to persuade him to help revive her as she faces death from an unknown ailment.
Dolittle is cajoled by his advisor, a parrot voiced by Emma Thompson, and goes to Buck Palace and diagnoses that the Queen's cure would be a drop from a fabled tree on a fabled island nobody has ever found.
With me so far?
Well, the help of the CGI parrot, scared gorilla (Rami Malek), an upbeat polar bear (John Cena), a fussy ostrich (Kumail Nanjiani) and a duck with a metal leg (Octavia Spencer) alongside a real-life apprentice (Harry Collet), he sets sail.
He is chased by a pantomime baddie in the form of a former college rival (Michael Sheen) who has been offered bribes by a scheming courtier (Jim Broadbent) to ensure Dolittle's failure.
So, chaos ensues, Dolittle gets into scrapes which seem to have no escape and Sheen throws himself around in petulant strop after petulant strop.
Of course, they are a distraction to the animals who have all of the best jokes. Sadly, none inspire laughter.
And that is the problem with Dolittle - it offers nothing new and, consequently, fails to hit the funny bone..
Since the days of Rex Harrison, talking animals have featured regularly on big and small screens, so there is no wow factor any more and, thanks to Downey Jr and Eddie Murphy before him, it has also lost is quintessential British charm.
In other words, it's all special effects and strange accents but precious little love.
Without the latter, it is a failure.

Reasons to watch: He talks to the animals!
Reasons to avoid: Just anther remake which isn't as good as the original

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 4.5/10

Did you know? Doctor John Dolittle is the central character of a series of children's books by Hugh Lofting. Doctor Dolittle first appeared in the author's illustrated letters to his children, written from the trenches during World War, when actual news, he later said, was either too horrible or too dull. 

The final word. Robert Downey Jr. : "I always go 'Why this movie, why now, why bother?' And then I, honestly, I looked out the windows and these alpacas are looking at me and our goats and our Oreo cows and our pigs, the kunekune pigs ... it just felt kind of synchronistic." Cinema Blend

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