RDJ Does More With Dolittle

RDJ Does More With Dolittle

Oliver Jamias, Contributor

After more than 10 years of acting in Marvel movies as Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. moves on to a role that’s equally fantastical: a Victorian Era veterinarian with the ability to communicate with animals.

Dolittle will be the eccentric actor’s first role following the release of Avengers: Endgame in April 2019.  Compared to other retellings of the classic children’s story, RDJ’s version of Dolittle will be made as close to the original as possible.  Set in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, the story follows the adventures of the eponymous doctor and his life with talking animals.  Living alone with only animals to keep him company after the death of his wife, Dolittle is forced to go on a journey to save the young Queen Victoria, who has become very sick.  To do this, the doctor must go search for a legendary island that holds the cure.  While doing this, he is accompanied by several of his animal companions and his “apprentice” (Harry Collett), who forcibly joins Dolittle on his adventure.

Each of the doctor’s animal associates not only have unique personalities, but they are also voiced by big names in Hollywood.  Rami Malek, who previously played Freddie Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, will be voicing Chee-Chee, an anxious but friendly gorilla.   Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer will be voicing Dab-Dab, a bubbly but brainless duck.  Professional wrestler John Cena and Pakistani-American comedian Kumail Nanjiani will be forming a duo consisting of two animals with opposite personalities who will inevitably butt heads; Cena will be voicing Yoshi, a happy and cheerful polar bear, while Nanjiani will be voicing the cynical and pessimistic ostrich Plimpton.  Two-time Academy Award and Golden Globe Award winner Emma Thompson will feature as Polynesia, a parrot who is one of Dolittle’s most trusted friends.  Additionally, Peter Parker and Iron Man will also be having a small reunion, as Tom Holland will be taking the role of the dog Jip.

The film was originally set to be released by April 2019, but it was delayed for several reasons.  The first of these was a simple one: the movie wouldn’t stand a chance if Avengers: Endgame was still showing in theaters.  The second issue was related to the production of the movie.  With a budget of $175 million (not counting marketing and distribution), the film’s director Stephen Gaghan had declared the movie done.  However, producers Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum, as well as RDJ’s wife Susan Downey, thought otherwise, and not only did they call for 21 additional shooting days, but they also brought in Chris Mckay (The Lego Batman Movie) and Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) to help with production.

Despite having Robert Downey Jr. as the main lead and all of these big name actors as the supporting cast, there is still the possibility that Dolittle will be a failure. However, with the addition of new producers as well as feedback from the studio, the movie still has a chance to do a lot.