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MOVIE REVIEW

Dolittle

also known as “As Aventuras do Dr Dolittle,” “Bác Sĩ Dolittle: Chuyến Phiêu Lưu Thần Thoại,” “Die fantastische Reise des Dr. Dolittle,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for some action, rude humor and brief language.

Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Kids • Teens • Family
Genre:
Fantasy Adventure Comedy IMAX
Length:
1 hr. 46 min.
Year of Release:
2020
USA Release:
January 17, 2020 (wide release)
DVD: April 7, 2020
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues

HELPING OTHERS—What is LOVE, for a follower of Christ? Answer

“Teamwork makes the dream work”

The pain of losing a loved one.

Becoming a recluse as a result of that loss.

Victorian England

Copyright, Universal Pictures

ANIMALS of the Bible

Copyright, Universal Pictures

DRAGONS AND DINOSAURS—discover how they are connected

About DRAGONS in the Bible

Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation in Christian Answers’ site for kids—activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, coloring pages, and more
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Ships in the Bible

Dangerous situations

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Featuring: Robert Downey Jr.Dr. John Dolittle
Tom HollandJip (voice)—a dog
Harry CollettTommy Stubbins—Dolittle’s self-appointed apprentice
Ralph InesonArnall Stubbins
Jessie BuckleyQueen Victoria, The Queen of England
Rami MalekChee-Chee (voice)—a lowland gorilla
Emma ThompsonPolynesia (voice)—a macaw
Ralph FiennesBarry (voice)—a Bengal tiger
Marion CotillardTutu (voice)—a red fox
Kumail NanjianiPlimpton (voice)—an ostrich
Michael SheenMudfly
Antonio BanderasRassouli
John CenaYoshi (voice)—a polar bear
Selena GomezBetsy (voice)—a giraffe
Octavia SpencerDab-Dab (voice)—a duck
Jim BroadbentLord Thomas Badgley
Craig RobinsonKevin (voice)—a red squirrel
Kasia SmutniakLily Dolittle—Dr. Dolittle’s deceased wife
Frances de la Tour … Ginko-Who-Soars (voice)—a fire-breathing dragon
See all »
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Producer: Perfect World Pictures
Team Downey
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Universal Pictures. Trademark logo.
Universal Pictures

Emphasizes love (helping others), teamwork, friendship, and moral character

Copyright, Universal Pictures

There once was a man who could talk to the animals and together with his wife sought to take care of animals from all over the world. Upon saving the life of England’s Queen Victoria, he was given a sanctuary to continue his work. Upon the death of his wife, he retreated from the world and has not been seen since. So begins the fairy tale of sorts of a man named Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.).

Years later finds Dolittle a recluse with only animals for company when his solitude is broken one day by first a young boy seeking his help for an injured squirrel and then a young girl, Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) who brings with her a request for his help from the now gravely ill Queen.

Upon his examination of the Queen, the Doctor embarks on a long sea journey accompanied by the boy, Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) as well as an entourage of animals including a gorilla, a polar bear, a dog named Jip (Tom Holland-voice), and his right hand bird Polly (Emma Thompson-voice) among others. However, the Queen’s illness appears to be the work of nefarious people bent on taking her throne, and they will let nothing stop them, even if that means making sure the good Doctor never returns.

Dolittle’s animals speak to him in their own language, and thanks to CGI we see and hear them speak in English rendering it more a kid’s film whose entertainment value will increase with younger viewers. That is not to say there are not some lines and scenes written specifically to likewise entertain ‘the kid in all of us’ adults, but those are far fewer and seem more an afterthought. A decent film overall, there remains a few elements parents may wish to be wary of in this PG-rated film.

Objectionable Content

Violence: Moderate but brief. A squirrel is shot, but the actual injuries are obscured. Guns and knives are aimed at people and animals, but no one is ever shown injured seriously. Soldiers fight with animals in hand-to-hand combat, whereas animals use their claws and teeth, and the strongest injury being a kick to the groin.

The warship sent to stop Dolittle fires upon their ship and destroys much of it, although no animals are seen as hurt. The fiercest battle involves a dragon that first spits and then breathes fire onto Dolittle’s crew and several soldiers, the fire barely missing its mark, but culminates in the implied eating of one soldier, although the scene cuts away and does not show this happen. A character is seen falling to their apparent death, but is later shown to be swarmed by bats. The dragon battle may be too much for younger children.

Language: Mild. The Lord’s name is taken in vain 5 times, by the ostrich who remarks, “Oh my G*d” (3x), “Oh G*d” (1) and when someone says, “By G*d history will remember me.” An orangutan declares “God help him,” although this comment appears innocent. Inappropriate language includes: “d*mn” (1), “fr*gg*n” (1), “heck” and “shut up” (1). After a whale lifts its fin out of the water another mentions how the gesture means he is ‘flipping-off’ the human.

There is no sex or nudity in the movie, although the gorilla does jut out his backside in disdain to the Doctor during a chess game. Kissing is limited to a brief embrace between the Doctor and his wife within a flashback, and when Lady Rose gives Tommy a peck on the cheek.

Lessons

Some positive and negative themes presented in the film that are worth discussing include the “Eden Tree,” covetousness, and helping others.

The Eden Tree or The Tree of Life— When Dolittle refers to “the fruit of the Eden Tree” that can heal any disease, it is a veiled reference to the actual “Tree of Life” that God planted in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). After Adam and Eve’s fall, this tree was moved to Heaven, and as many Biblical scholars believe will return when God’s kingdom is established here on Earth. This is a spiritual reward given to us as the children of God, and not one hidden here on Earth as a medicinal or physical “cure-all.”

“To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” —Revelation 2:7

“And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” —Revelation 21:2

Covetousness— The main villain, Blair, wishes to find the “Eden Tree” and then take credit for what Lily Dolittle discovered years ago. The Holy Scriptures, from the Old through the New Testament, has much to say about theft and deception, and Blair’s sin covers both.

“You are not to steal or lie or deal falsely with your neighbor.” —Leviticus 19:11

“For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, FALSE TESTIMONIES, blasphemies.” —Matthew 15:19

“‘… you must not steal; you must not covet,” and every other commandment are summed up in this statement: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” —Romans 13:9

Helping Others or Charity— The macaw Poly acts as the reclusive Dolittle’s conscience and concludes, “… it’s only in helping others that we can truly help ourselves.” While there is more to it than that, she did touch upon something that God’s Word addresses, and we all should look for such opportunities to help others in our daily lives.

For a follower of Christ, what is LOVE—a feeling, an emotion, or an action? Answer

“Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” —Deuteronomy 15:11

“… not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” —Philippians 2:4

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” —Galatians 6:2

This was more than a suggestion from our Lord Jesus, it was a command.

“The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.” —Mark 12:31

Robert Downey Jr., as the reluctant hero Dolittle, plays his role with relish and is the strongest part of a film that, even with the constant chiming in from his supporting animal cast, otherwise could only be considered average. Downey’s striving for authenticity made his accent sometimes unintelligible, but did not overly impair the straight-forward and child-like storytelling.

In conclusion, Dolittle is a sweet film targeting kids and their parents, who will draw the greatest delight in sharing the experience with them. Recommended for parents and children.

  • Violence: Moderate
  • Profane language: Mild
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Minor
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Minor
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: None
  • Occult: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—I loved this movie. It was a delightful adaptation on an old classic. Dr. Doolittle was one of my favorite books growing up, so this was a treat!

The graphics were perfect, the animals were not choppy, they actually looked like they fit into the real world. I also appreciated that they made an effort to emphasize the animal language while subtly converting it to language that we humans could understand. And Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect choice!

Yes, as mentioned in the official review, there were a few unnecessary irreverent words spoken, but no cussing or nudity or sex of any nature. The movie, surprisingly, was pretty clean by today’s standards. Also, it was aimed primarily to children, very few, if any, adult “innuendos” to be heard, but that, in my opinion, only made it better!

Another note, the violence was kept mostly off screen. Much appreciated, and no one died.

Also, there was no religion or religious aspects to the movie. No Christian bashing, no God smearing… nothing but a bunch of silly fun. It was, surprisingly, free of any political agendas as well.

My 26 year old son and his 23 year old girlfriend took me, and they loved it as much as I did. If you’re on the fence about going, I’d say hop over it and go! You will love it as much as your kids!

*** Spoiler’s Ahead! *** The one scene with the dragon is being dragged through the media mud. It wasn’t that bad. It was neither graphic, nor gross. Did it imply grossness? Yes, but it was mainly played off for the usual potty humor that kids nowadays seem to like. I can think of, and have experienced, much grosser things than a CGI Dragon’s constipation being relieved with Doolittle’s help. It’s fake, and you don’t see any poop or hint of poop, just hunks of metal being removed, and some gas effects. Not a big deal. LOL
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Kathy W, age 49 (USA)
Positive—We saw this at a cheapo cinema, which has a number of speakers stacked on top of each other in front and to the sides of the screen (it’s a former cinema that was reopened as cheaply as possible, which in one way is good, as it means the ticket price is between UK£3—£6, a fraction of multiplex costs). I mention this, as I don’t know if it was just the screening I went to or the problem was inherent.

Onto the film. It was inoffensive, but quite jarringly edited—to me, it seemed there had been big edits probably after previews—hence the use of a narrator. The biggest problem, is I couldn’t make out what Robert Downey Jr. was saying 99% of the time, with his faux Welsh whispery accent. So in fact, I had trouble following much of what was happening.

I couldn’t see a place where one might apply Biblical themes (there was nothing anti-faith, which is a plus point, considering most modern fare is anti), except * SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT * maybe Dolittle’s redemption.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Dirk Wickenden, age 52 (United Kingdom)

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