The new movie DOLITTLE displays some interesting imagery here and there, but the overall pacing is incessantly frenetic and the script seems thrown together without much thought. Some of the CGI is good while some isn’t particularly impressive. Colors are too bright and clean on some of the talking animals. Many move too fast to seem fully credible as living beings. Also, I would have chosen a deeper voice for the perpetually fearful Chee-Chee the gorilla instead of Rami Malek’s overly-youthful one that had me thinking of a hyper-active, white American teenager. That is a poor match for a large imposing creature from Africa, even if he is scared, and what sounds his vocal cords would naturally emit.
One scene towards the end of the production has overly drawn-out puerile humor to the point that I found myself wondering if I’m simply getting old. Rather, I think it’s actually one of many instances of poor writing, whereby cheap laughs are emphasized over a missed opportunity to deepen an emotionally bonding situation for Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey, Jr.) and the supporting characters of animals and humans around him. I longed for more lingering moments to give me, the viewer, a chance to connect further with what the players were seeing, feeling, experiencing. But, no, it’s quickly on to the next action or scene. It often feels like the film is actually speeded up.
The cast is mostly excellent (save Rami Malek’s voice) but not given much decent writing to work with. One actor who deserves special mention here is Harry Collett, who plays Tommy Stubbins, the self-appointed child apprentice to Dr. Dolittle. Not only is Collett good-looking, he is effectively emotive. His face quickly conveys feeling states, including tender ones, even with a fast-panning camera– though it does seem to linger on him at times, which is pleasant. I foresee Mr. Collett showing up in a lot more movies to come, though hopefully ones far better than this slap dash project.
The juxtaposition of a 19th century timeline with some supporting characters expressing very current terms and sensibilities comes across as awkward and annoying, even crass in one particular scene involving talking insects. If more real care had been put into DOLITTLE instead of doing such a rush job on it (and I heard from a local movie theater employee this is what it was) I think two or three good films could have been produced from out of this material. However, improvements on some of the CGI would also need to be made. Opportunities at being attentive to and more creative with character development and storylines were frequently missed and that’s sad.