By David Lee Zamora
Special to the PARADE
“Dolittle” stars Robert Downey Jr. in a retelling of the iconic children’s classic by the same name, first introduced to the public in 1920 by author Hugh Lofting.
Downey, fresh off his recurring role as another iconic character, Iron Man, had a hand in producing the movie through his and his wife’s production company, Team Downey, which is based at the famed Warner Brothers Studio lot and also produced the well-received movie, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” which was released in 2011.
Dr. John Dolittle, played by Downey is a veterinarian with the ability to communicate with animals. An avid adventurer, his wife Lily died at sea. As a result, Dolittle becomes a virtual recluse until his unique talents are called upon. Adventure ensues as Dolittle is entrusted to assist a client of nobility.
While the movie has enjoyed only mixed to negative reviews, a number of critics have noted that the motion picture is geared toward young children who tended to laugh at what has been described as sometimes crude and elementary humor. So while this may not be the best choice to take your significant other for a romantic evening, it may be a fine choice if you have some time in the afternoon and you’re with the kiddos.
The live-action cast includes Downey Jr. as Dr. John Dolittle; Antonio Banderas as Rassouli, the king of pirates who was Lily’s (Dolittle’s wife) father; Michael Sheen as Dr. Blair Müdfly, an old schoolmate and rival of Dolittle; Harry Collett as Tommy Stubbins, Dolittle’s self-appointed apprentice; Jim Broadbent as Lord Thomas Badgley, one of the Queen’s chair; Jessie Buckley as Queen Victoria, the Queen of England; Carmel Laniado as Lady Rose, a princess and Tommy’s friend; Ralph Ineson as Arnall Stubbins, Tommy’s uncle and Dolittle’s favorite shoemaker; Joanna Page as Bethan Stubbins, Tommy’s aunt; and Kasia Smutniak as Lily Dolittle, Dolittle’s deceased wife.
Voice talent includes Emma Thompson as Polynesia, a wise and headstrong blue and yellow macaw and Dolittle’s most trusted adviser; last year’s Oscar Winner for Best Leading Actor Rami Malek as Chee-Chee, an anxious but noble gorilla’ WWE wrestling talent John Cena as Yoshi, an upbeat polar bear who wears a bashlyk; Kumail Nanjiani as Plimpton, a cynical and fussy but well-meaning ostrich who wears stockings and quarrels with Yoshi; Octavia Spencer as Dab-Dab, an enthusiastic and crazy duck with a metal leg; Tom Holland as Jip, a loyal dog who wears glasses; Craig Robinson as Kevin, a squirrel with attitude; Ralph Fiennes as Barry, a ferocious tiger with gold-tipped fangs who has a past with Dolittle; Selena Gomez as Betsy, a friendly giraffe; Marion Cotillard as Tutu, a French red fox who is friends with Betsy; Jason Mantzoukas as James, a wisecracking dragonfly who meets Dolittle in a prison cell for which he helps him escape; and Frances de la Tour as Ginko-Who-Soars, a fire-breathing dragon who guards a magical fruit.
The movie’s runtime is an hour and 41 minutes.