Dolittle dissatisfies, result of poor directing styles


Hannah Kopek, Co-Editor-In-Chief

“Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime?” Dolittle combined incredible CGI with hilarious tropes to create a well-rounded, whole-hearted adventure movie.
One of the best things this movie has going for it is the inconsequential tone. The film does a great job of not taking itself too seriously. Comedy is a reoccurring feature that suits the film well and complements the bright color scheme. The palette of the movie is vivid and bold, and reminded me of a combination between Vincent Van Gogh and Andy Warhol. The introduction to the movie was even animated, which helped in the transition to fantasy.
The film begins with John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) being beckoned to the Queen’s bedside. She has fallen ill, and the only thing that can cure her was a magical fruit from a far away island. Dolittle and his companions embark on this semi-treacherous journey to uncover a political conspiracy and save the Queen.
The motive throughout was constant and wacky in the best possible way. The set design and costuming felt whimsical yet grounded and created an interesting dynamic that bordered between high fantasy with literal dragons and a government coup involving the treason of one of the Queen’s advisors, Mudfly (Michael Sheen).
If I had to describe the character of Dolittle in a short phrase, it would be chaotic/ good. The band of misfit animals he assembled gets the job done, even if it may not be in the most efficient way. Each of the animals has their own unique personality that shines through because of the talented voice actors behind them, including Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Holland, and Rami Malek
Computer generated animals can be difficult to get right, but the special effects team did a brilliant job at avoiding a Cats level misstep. Each animal looked as though they were plucked from the wild and given the ability to speak from their own points of view.
Unfortunately, Dolittle faltered when it came to overused tropes and childish comedy. At times, jokes felt forced and without a doubt catered to a younger audience. That’s not to say the film didn’t have golden moments of genuine humor and expectation subversions, but here were far too many cliches that warranted several eye rolls on my part. The stakes did not feel high for the characters, and the conflict left more to be desired.
The inconsistency in directorial styles was also conspicuous. There were several shots that showed creative intelligence, like sending the camera “through” glass. Others, like dramatic zooms on the sinister character showed a disconnect between the initial director, Stephen Gaghan, and those put in charge of reshoots after Gaghan’s dismissal from set.
Overall, I think Dolittle was an interesting movie with fantastic CGI creatures and a talented cast. It showcased a lot of family friendly themes, the most prominent being that through helping others, you can help yourself. The overused comedic tropes and conflicting approaches to scenes, however, brought the film down. I give Dolittle 3/5 stars.