This review was written to help you determine if you should take your family to see this movie.
I took my family to go see Dr. Doolittle this weekend, and it was something that I greatly regret. I thought that this movie would be a fantastical, whimsical, funny trip through history and fantasy. But instead, I found a plotless storyline with all-star actors who all seemed to play on their own teams. Unlike my last movie review: Sonic The Hedgehog, which hits high marks in many different areas.
The premise of the story takes place in 19th century England, where a professor named Dr. Doolittle can speak to exotic animals. He’s granted an estate by the Queen of England.
He travels the world, collecting and speaking to these animals with his wife, Lily.
Lilly then disappears at sea and Doolittle disappears from the world in a very predictable fashion.
Throughout the entire movie, I found myself having to explain to my children what was happening. There was one point where I took my son to the potty and he was more interested in playing with Spongebob than going back into the theater.
My children are four and five years old, and although my five-year old can read very simple words like in a Dr. Seuss book, she really can’t grasp the context of words that are on a screen. This movie has many different types of those instances to set the scene for different areas of the movie, and without those words being there, you would have no idea if you didn’t know how to read what was happening in the plot. The dialogue and scenes don’t go far enough to make it super obvious.
This was very annoying to me as a father because when I bring my children to a movie, I want them to be entertained and understand what’s going on. I want them to follow the story. Throughout this film, my children had no idea what was happening. I had to keep explaining things to them and often received a glossed over look in return.
There were some really funny moments in the movie that director, Stephen Gaghan got right. There were probably four or five instances where you just laughed out loud at some of the jokes, but in a two-hour movie that has no plot, four or five instances of laughing-out-loud doesn’t work. Sadly, throughout most of the film, you’re just kind of going, what is happening here?
Frankly, I didn’t care about any of the characters. I didn’t care about Dr. Doolittle. I didn’t care about the Queen of England. I didn’t care about any of the animals. There wasn’t one character in this movie that I drew a connection with and really could get behind and cheer for.
It didn’t take me on the roller coaster ride of emotions, up and down. There were some fun moments but for the most part, this movie misses the mark on many levels in terms of the way a movie is supposed to make you feel.
Robert Downey Jr. should stick to playing roles like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes as his Dr. Dolittle missed the mark in many respects. He didn’t stay true to the character, the entire movie. He tried to force comedy, which never works. And it seemed as though he really didn’t have any idea where he was going on his journey throughout the film which led to awkward, pointless dialogue and moments that left me scratching my head.
On a positive note, Emma Thompson does a very good job playing Polynesia, the parrot. She is the glue that somehow strings this movie together. If it wasn’t for her character and performance, this movie would have completely fallen apart (more than it did). The choices she makes as the parrot throughout the entire movie entertains and does a great job of explaining where so many plot holes fail.
Tom Holland plays Jip, the faithful best friend, a.k.a. dog, of Dr. Doolittle. Holland does a fantastic job of portraying this very wise and smart dog who helps Dolittle diagnose the gravely ill Queen. It’s unfortunate that Holland doesn’t appear more in the movie. If he had appeared more, it would have enhanced and added to the film quite nicely. But instead, the story calls for him to stay by the Queen’s side, as Dolittle goes on his journey to grab the necessary items, in a land far away, to heal the queen.
Michael Sheen plays the villain in this movie. Full disclosure, I typically like how Sheen plays a villain. (Sheen was great as Lucian in Underworld) But he plays Mudfly in a mundane and almost campy manner. You don’t get the sense at any point that he will win the day. A good villain delivers a performance that matches that of the protagonist. However, considering Robert Downey Jr.’s performance, I guess this is to be expected. Unfortunate indeed!
If I were you, and I had a family, I would wait to explore this movie when it comes out on Netflix or Amazon Prime, or one of the streaming services. At least when you stream, you can watch it for free (or close to it) and don’t have to waste $20 to $30 on a family trip to the movie theater.
Do yourself a favor. Wait a few months, warm up some popcorn at home and be in an in a spot where you can easily turn off this movie and go on to something else, if need be.
I give this movie 4 out of 10 Game Cartridges.
This review contains spoilers – please be advised.
Our wise-cracking blue-haired friend is back and better than ever in a new movie that just hit theaters on Valentine’s day. Sonic the Hedgehog is the kind of movie that makes you stop, think, and remember “the good old days.”
NOTE: THE PLOT LINE IS IN ITALICS SO YOU CAN SKIP IF YOU’D LIKE.
The initial Twitter feedback about bringing “realism” to our mythical hedgehog was received and the revised result brings Sonic to life in a way you remember from the video game.
I remember the first time I played Sonic The Hedgehog. I was at a Sears and Roebuck (talk about nostalgia), in the children’s section. Every time we went to the Mall, I begged my parents to let me play Sonic on the Sega Genesis – sometimes at the expense of having to wait for other children to stop playing. We had to park by Sears and enter through the department store. Collecting those rings and racing around the courses always got me pumped up for an often-boring trip into the Mall.
The movie instantly brought back the memory at the Mall. It starts on a planet that looks very much like the Green Hill Zone where our blue little buddy races around in the opening minutes only to be discovered by bad guys with arrows. The movie looks and feels just like the 90’s original – in high definition.
Sonic is played by Ben Schwartz who really brings out the essence of Sonic’s cocky and sarcastic nature. His performance is a delight and really brings the video game character to life. He is snarky, funny and is loaded with attitude.
The weirdest part of the entire movie happens when he meets this Owl named Longclaw who is not mentioned in the franchise. Longclaw gives him his rings which transport him to different worlds. Just before the owl apparently dies, he opens a portal to the United States – Green Hills, Montana, which looks similar to his home planet. We never really find out what happens to Long Claw which is super strange.
Sonic spends the next ten years growing up watching and learning everything about Green Hills.
There is a super cool scene where Sonic plays baseball against himself which really brings back some memories for me as I used to play Sonic Superstar Baseball on the Gamecube for countless hours years ago. It’s just after the solo baseball game when the action really gets rolling.
Sonic realizes he is alone and will always be alone so he starts racing around the bases so fast that he causes an explosion knocking out power across the Pacific Northwest. My 5-year old daughter loved this part of the movie – she turned to me during it and whispered “I can’t believe how fast he is daddy – so fast he made an explosion!” I chuckled and confirmed her thought. How cool that I am sharing a movie with my daughter based on a video game franchise I’ve loved for decades?
After the explosion, the government starts taking notice and low and behold, we meet Sonic’s arch nemesis Doctor Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik (Jim Carrey).
Carrey plays his typical schtick which really jives with the essence of Dr. Robotnik as both, at times, seem certifiably insane.
Sonic scrambles to leave Planet Earth before Dr. Robotnik discovers him. At the same time, Green Hills Sherriff Tom Wachowski (James Mardsen), is planning to move to San Francisco to join SFPD. Sonic had been tracking “Donut Lord ” as he calls him up until this point of the movie and so he seeks him because he knows how much he cares for animals.
James Mardsen does a great job playing the “hometown hero.” His character aspires for bigger and better things but ultimately he decides all the ambition and need to be relevant is found in the small things. There was one point where his character received an acceptance letter in the mail – in this modern age of cell phones and e-mail getting a written acceptance letter made no sense.
Sherriff Wachowski shoots Sonic with a tranquilizer gun as Sonic is trying to open a portal to a new planet. The tranquilizer takes effect and instead of opening a portal to said planet, he opens a portal to San Fran by saying San Francisco (which is on the shirt the Sherriff is wearing). As he staggers and gets groggy, Sonic drops his remaining rings into the portal and they land on the Transamerica Pyramid. Sherriff Wachowski and Sonic embark on a journey to get those remaining rings back so our favorite hedgehog can escape yet again to a new planet.
Meanwhile, Dr. Robotnik uses his egg-shaped drones to seek and find Sonic throughout the remainder of the movie with a climax happening when the two adversaries face off in San Francisco in very much the style and feel of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games.
Sonic finally pushing Dr. Robotnik into a portal to a Mushroom infested planet (Sonic hates mushrooms – does this surprise any Mario fans out there?) where he is left to fend for himself while Sonic wins the day!
The movie is pretty epic. I loved the nostalgic moments and seeing Sonic come to life on the big screen. One of the elements that defines Sonic the Hedgehog is his blazing speed and this movie kept pace. There really weren’t any slow elements – everything moved forward fast like our little blue protagonist.
Jim Carrey delivers an eggcellent performance but he isn’t like most of us hard core Sonic fans remember (in the game Robotnick has a bit of a belly). His character arch mirrors what you would expect from this type of antagonist.
I really loved this film and I would watch it again for sure. Maybe more importantly, my wife and my kids – boy (age 4) and girl (age 5) loved it as well. The movie is suitable for any children 4 and up who can sit for an hour and a half of fun.
Thank you Sonic, for another lifetime memory made!
If you want to play a modern Sonic racing game, check out the overview on 2019 Video Game Titles You Need to Pay Attention to – featuring Team Sonic Racing.
I give this movie 7.5/10 game cartridges.