Dolittle has reached screens on a wave of foreboding. News of delays and extensive reshoots spoke of a troubled production. The trailer landed in October to general derision. The movie finally comes out today, and reviews do little to dispel doubts.
Few critics have a good word to say about Dolittle, which stars Robert Downey Jr. in the title role of the quirky veterinarian who talks to animals. They have slammed its incoherent story, unfunny gags, dodgy sound mixing, and lackluster performances from the starry cast — not least Downey’s wayward accent (Welsh? Scottish? Jamaican?). Some compare the film unfavorably with the much-maligned Cats. At the time of writing, its critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes is an abysmal 17%. (It’s worth noting that the audience score is 75%.)
A running theme in reviews is the misuse of cgi. The hybrid film sees human actors interact with a menagerie of animated beasts. These were handled by MPC, which is familiar with photorealistic animals — it delivered plenty of them on Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book and The Lion King. Framestore, another powerhouse vfx studio, was also involved. The production vfx supervisor was John Dykstra.