Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen
Directors: Stephen Gaghan
Producer: Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Susan Downey
It’s such a simple plot that it almost goes against it for not having monstrously evil villains.
But if you can immerse yourself in the quirky world of Dr. Dolittle, a gifted physician who can actually talk to creatures with fur and feathers, you’ll be charmed.
Ever since his adventurous wife Lily died at sea, the doctor has shut himself up in the sprawling mansion given to him by the Queen no less.
But when the Queen falls terribly ill and reaches out to him, Dolittle has to sail forth with his furry and feathered crew to get her the antidote that will cure her. And in the bargain expose the evil people around her who had poisoned her.
Communicating with a squid in the fish tank that has seen it all, a spider that he hides behind the painting to report to him, and a dog that guards the patient, Dolittle revives the ailing Queen.
Aboard this joyride are several of his friends-cum-assistants including a polar bear who feels cold easily, an ostrich that buries its head, a duck that shakes liquid off its back (amusing nods to well-known proverbs), and Polly the ever-faithful who speaks human language.
Dolittle has to sail the seas to find what Lily had found but not before he has to contend with her father King Rassouli and then the evil ones from the palace who want to thwart him.
But on this mission, Dolittle has additional help from young Tommy Stubbins who has escaped from his family of hunters because he loves animals too much to hurt them. You go awww at the way he rescues a squirrel he hurt unintentionally.
Director Stephen Gaghan and his writers make the menacing evil men a bit cartoonish so there’s no real fear of the antagonists or a real confrontation. But watching Dolittle and his ‘medical team’ of assorted creatures do plenty, is a delight.
Robert Downey Jr is perfect as the slightly cracked but good-hearted doctor and a host of celebrity voices bring alive his lovable helpers.
Verdict: For a light-hearted trip for the family, Dolittle gets a 3* rating.