Robert Downey Jr. is probably, almost certainly, very nearly definitely done with the MCU for the remainder of his career. So what’s next? We’ve known the answer is Dolittle, the latest stab at Hugh Lofting’s beloved children’s books about a naturalist so good at his job that he can talk to all animals. But it’s only till now that we had a peep at the project Downey thought was important enough to delay the third Sherlock Holmes.
The answer is a sweeping, very expensive looking adventure, set during the Victorian era and featuring the former Tony Stark doing…is that an Irish accent? With unkempt hair and a three day beard? It’s not a gritty take on oft-filmed material, but it does feature what a less genial version of the good Doctor than seen in previous screen iterations, complete with some aquatic derring-do and, of course, talking animals.
This new Dolittle is markedly different from the last time Lofting’s character hit screens, with the modern-set, Eddie Murphy-led comedies from 1998 and 2001, which helped turn the former shock comic into a family-friendly brand. There have been numerous TV and DTV adaptations, as well as a stage musical from the late ’90s. Most notorious is the one from 1967 — an over-budgeted and troubled production, starring Rex Harrison and Anthony Newley, that underperformed at the box office but still nabbed a Best Picture nomination thanks to aggressive politicking on the studio’s part.
The Downey Dolittle may follow a little too closely in that one’s footsteps, with its soaring budget and well-publicized reshoots. But at least it won’t force Downey to sing.