Lit­tle to praise

Canning Gazette - - FILM -

WHILE no an­i­mals were harmed in the mak­ing of the lat­est big screen it­er­a­tion of Dr Dolit­tle, the same can­not be said for the au­di­ence.

Robert Downey Jr ap­pears as the tit­u­lar role, sport­ing a ter­ri­ble and al­most un­in­tel­li­gi­ble Welsh ac­cent and of­fk­il­ter man­ner­isms that aim for ec­cen­tric but end up an­noy­ing.

Since the death of his wife Lily (Ka­sia Smut­niak), Dolit­tle has hid­den away in his roy­alap­pointed manor with the menagerie of an­i­mals he has learnt to com­mu­ni­cate with for com­pany.

Two chil­dren come knock­ing on his door and one Lady Rose (Carmel La­ni­ado) asks Dolit­tle to

help the dy­ing Queen Vic­to­ria (Jessie Buckley).

Soon he and the other child Stub­bins (Harry Col­lett) are off on a voy­age to find a myth­i­cal is­land and bring back a mag­i­cal fruit, the only thing that can save the queen.

Dolit­tle feels like a relic of a by­gone era; the hu­man fe­male char­ac­ters are ei­ther dead, dy­ing or in­ex­pli­ca­bly left at home, while an is­land of vaguely Span­ish vil­lain­ous ban­dits is par­tic­u­larly on the nose. The pan­tomime vil­lain of the piece is none other than renowned Welsh ac­tor Michael Sheen do­ing an im­pec­ca­ble English ac­cent, just fur­ther high­light­ing the bizarrenes­s of Downey’s mum­blings.

Vis­ually the cast of an­i­mated an­i­mals are well done but the heavy re­liance on these char­ac­ters us­ing mod­ern slang, de­spite the 19th cen­tury set­ting, for comedic value gets tired very quickly.

Dolit­tle just about func­tions as a nar­ra­tive, but with­out one iota of orig­i­nal­ity, it feels like a waste of time and tal­ent.

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