Having grown up on Hugh Lofting’s novels, the prospect of Robert Downey hanging up his Marvel warrior vines long enough to play the legendary British physician and universal champion of animal rights piqued my curiosity. The miasmic universe that plays out is one that instead envisions Dr. John Dolittle as Iron Vet, playing guardian to a galaxy of computer generated critters. If I could talk to the animals, I would ask the money-hungry producers — Downey among them — just exactly who in blazes contributed the idea of a fire-breathing dragon with which the good doctor establishes contact? Talk about violating the integrity of Lofting’s original! The Pushmi-pullyu, mythical creature though it may be, was at least comprised of two parts llama. The celebrity-voiced menagerie came through loud and clear. But apart from stale one-liners — and dare I say an anachronistic aside to Star Trek — there was seldom much thrown our way that was worth listening to. Your time would be better spent at home on the floor schooling the young ones on the art of conducting a heart-to-heart with the family pet. (2019) — Scott Marks
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