Why Did ‘Dolittle’ End Up Being Robert Downey Jr.’s Post-Marvel Disaster?


Connected via a Zoom video call, we at LEFToye were busy in our mundane chats to pass the quarantine days, bouncing bland questions like the most beautiful place, the best restaurant ever, till we struck gold with- the worst film of 2020? The unanimous answer was ‘Dolittle’, Robert Downey Jr. produced and acted-in high-budget glamorous project post his Iron Man days. 

And thus we set our bored-out-of-our-minds intelligence to crack why Dolittle ended up being a wannabe Pirates of the Caribbean leftover that created a visible dent in Robert Downey Jr’s post-Iron Man glory:

  • Dolittle was already looking bleak, to begin with, in 2018 when Universal Pictures sent it back for reshooting 

The minute the studio saw the first cut in April 2018- bereft of humor and smart storytelling- they demanded multiple reshoots. And the result- it ended up becoming a confusing mess of crass, gross-out, not-at-all funny humor tainted by the “expertise” of a thousand studio executives, killing whatever half-assed “vision” the director may have had. 

  • Well, talking about the director, the film couldn’t have made a worse choice

The director of Dolittle was Stephen Gaghan, known for gritty thrillers like Syriana. And he was tasked to helm a project that had to be funny, family-friendly, and appeal to kids…well, um….- in short, he made a film that was humorless and sans any special effects. Thus the release day of the film kept delaying as Universal Pictures brought Chris McCay (The Lego Batman Movie) and Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)to patch it up, but it was too little, too late. 

  • Robert Downey Jr.’s beyond weird accent that just killed whatever vibe in decimals Dolittle could create

It looked as if even he was aware of the disaster he had signed up for and thus haphazardly delivered dialogues in an odd, half-hearted Welsh (was it?) accent, that continuously slipped into Irish, Indian, and Jamaican intonations- a nightmarishly horrible remixed version of Captain Jack Sparrow.

  • A $175 million film that will be remembered for its below-mediocre CGI

From no special effects, Dolittle transitioned to CGI-ing the shit out of creating hideous shots of nature and animals that looked more cartoonish than they should have with the kind of money invested. There were scenes where when a CGI-ed animal appeared in the same frame as a human being, they seemed to not exist on the same screen. 

  • Robert was more than just acting and producing, he was, god-forbid, scripting too

Remember the grossed-out, purely unnecessary scene at the end of Downey pulling a bagpipe out of a dragon’s ass? Yeah, it was his idea that ended up being a very costly mistake. 

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