Stepping away from the suit

Robert Downey Jr’s post-Iron Man dilemma

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Robert Downey Jr.’s first movie since retiring from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Dolittle,” came out Jan. 17. Dolittle’s story originated as a children’s book series about a doctor who can speak to animals. Downey Jr. portrays the character of Dolittle pleasingly, but seeing this movie after 10 years of him portraying Tony Stark isn’t as satisfying as I thought it would be. 

As the story opens, Dolittle’s skills as an animal psychologist, medical doctor and veterinarian are displayed. He helps out Queen Victoria and she gives him a sanctuary for him and the animals to live in, which he uses as a clinic for people to come to if something is wrong with their animals. His beloved wife Lily Dolittle (Kasia Smutniak) dies at sea in a storm, causing Dolittle to confine himself in his home and cut off contact with the outside world. He lives in isolation for years until a boy, Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), comes knocking on his door with an injured squirrel. Dolittle finally ventures out of his home along with Stubbins to find a cure for the queen, who has fallen ill. 

After spending more than a decade in the role of Iron Man, moving into the character of an odd doctor does not seem to be the best way to move on from such a monumental role. I feel like this movie was enjoyable for kids, but not the most interesting to watch for anyone older. I wish the movie explored Dolittle rediscovering his talent more by seeing Stubbins discover that he also may have a special ability, too. Most of the movie was just Dolittle, Stubbins and the animals sailing across the sea, exploring exotic islands and encountering obstacles along the way. The plot moves along quickly and there were so many places where it desperately needed to slow down. As a movie made for kids, it needs to be less complex.

Since I personally am a huge fan of Downey Jr., I did enjoy the acting in the movie despite all the chaos. He is a phenomenal actor and nothing can change that. I also have to say the few sentimental scenes shown were heartwarming to me. I was able to see the internal struggle Dolittle experienced during the voyage. His journey, illustrating the concept of embracing family no matter if they’re people, friends, animals, etc., is heartwarming. Dolittle pushed himself to break free from his trauma and he realized how important life is, including the people and animals who have supported him.

Overall, there were good parts of the movie, but not enough to account for the film’s failures. This is not one of Downey Jr.’s finest, but his acting was exceptional and heartfelt. Even though the movie was very disoriented, nothing could stop my admiration for Downey Jr.