Is Robert Downey Jr.’s live action Dr. Dolittle ok for children to see? Dolittle Movie Review | Safe for Kids?, an honest parent look at the new Universal Pictures film. No spoilers. #DolittleMovie May contain commissioned links.
Dolittle Movie Review | Safe for Kids?
Has Iron Man gone off the deep end? After Avengers: Endgame, no one knew what to expect from Robert Downey Jr. He just completed the largest grossing movie of all time. What is he going to do now?
I’m going to talk to animals…with an English accent!
If you thought this movie was going to be a redo of the Eddie Murphy film, be prepared to be sorely disappointed. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong dude. In this Dolittle Movie Review | Safe for Kids?, we are breaking down the visuals, the story (no spoilers!), and every aspect of that PG rating for parents while keeping our children in mind. Can we trust that Universal Pictures has truly made a family-friendly film for the whole zoo?
Talking animals on the big screen is no easy feat. And I don’t envy the challenge that Universal Pictures had to make multiple CGI animals come to life. Not quite live-action Lion King level, but definitely nothing to sniff your dog nose at, the new Dolittle movie holds it’s own as a hybrid CG animal movie that’s visually believable and entertaining for the whole family.
Take Tony Stark, Freddie Mercury, Spider-Man, Nanny McPhee, and Voldemort. Add Selena Gomez, Antonio Banderas, John Cena, Michael Sheen, and Octavia Spencer. For this crew, the voice acting was spot-on. Amazing, in fact. But with an all-star cast like this one, you’d think that the script writing would be out-of-this-world amazing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t monkey dancing in my chair.
The biggest difference in this Dolittle movie and the one that “we know” from the 1998 is the setting. This film is not based in present day like the original Dr. Dolittle film. Instead Director Stephen Gaghan took inspiration from the 1920s Newberry Medal winning book, The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, for a redo of the classic 1967 film. But even if you haven’t read the classic story, you can basically sit down and map out exactly where it’s going. This one ain’t reinventing Hollywood.
There was so much potential for this family comedy. But heavily relying on animal jokes, physical comedy bits, and a highly eccentric role for RDJ (borderline awkward Captain Jack Sparrow realm), this movie is fun, but not award winning. Continuously moving and thankfully not lingering too long, this family-friendly yet predictable story line provides enough entertainment to keep everyone engaged but is certainly missing that “wow” factor. The story reminded me of some of those old school animated/live-action crossover family films.
I do, however, give props to the story themes. Redefining family, dealing with loss and grief, overcoming mental health challenges and finding friendship, the Dolittle movie provides a few feel good moments and enough parent talking points to bring overall substance to the screen. There is also one end credit scene too. Okay for a few laughs.
That PG Rating
Is Dolittle movie kid friendly? That is the question. It’s no secret that I am now highly skeptical of all MPAA ratings (um hello, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker not disclosing any language??). And as we all know, not all PG ratings are the same. As a parent, it’s been rather heartbreaking to realize how much movie ratings have shifted over the years – PG rating oscillating between Incredibles 2 intense and Christopher Robin calm. (Most recently, the Maleficent: Mistress of Evil PG rating was questionable.)
But for this Universal Pictures film, I wasn’t entirely certain of what kind of PG rating to expect. Rated PG for “some action, rude humor and brief language,” is this Dolittle movie safe for kids to see? Well, kind of?
Violence. The violence and suspense is very mild in this film. There are a few guns, a few swords, a few cannons, one open wound injury, and an inference to a human being eaten (camera pulls away). Overall, very family friendly in the terms of violent acts. The action is also very child friendly.
Adult Themes. Let’s dive into the rude humor portion shall we? There’s always a fine line between rude and crude. And with this animal film, the line gets a little blurred. I’m talking physical rude humor with animal butts, animal poop, and animal private parts. But deeper than that, there’s also subtle adult humor that may or may not go over kids’ heads – like a whale “flipping” someone off. It definitely has some Shrek-like appeal to keep adults entertained as well as children. But be cautioned for inquisitive little minds.
Language. At least this time, the MPAA rating got it right. One word. The Dolittle movie was so close into being completely swear word free. But unfortunately, the phrase “it’s d*mn time,” is used in this film. Interesting choice considering the fact that even the usual OMG statement is replaced with “gosh.” Completely unnecessary, I don’t understand why we needed that one word in the film at all. C’mon, film industry. A movie without swear words CAN be successful and loved.
I would not recommend Dolittle movie for kids younger than age 6-years old. Some of the rude humor and dialogue heavy scenes may be too much for squirmy children. I do think that Stephen Gaghan did an overall good job in keeping the family in mind for this film, compared to his more adult-themed resume.
No strong leading characters. No strong story. From Iron Man to Dolittle, Downey Jr.’s portrayal is not going to be winning any awards this time. Nothing overly blaring or shocking really, this Dolittle film echos nostalgic childhood movies, but I don’t think it will become a family classic. Was it fun to watch? Sure. But if you’re looking for RDJ to give the performance of a lifetime, I think he left it with his fake English accent.
Be sure to catch all of my family film ratings and reviews over at my Rotten Tomatoes page!
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I was invited as press to screen this film in exchange for this Dolittle Movie Review | Safe for Kids? All photos courtesy of Universal Pictures. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube for more movie updates, celebrity interviews, entertainment and behind-the-scenes info!
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