Once the most famous man in England, Dr Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) is given a park-like estate by the queen (Jessie Buckley), where he cares for all manner of animals. But when Dolittle’s adventurous wife, Lily (Kasia Smutniak), sets out on a quest and never returns, he shuts himself away and lives like a hermit with only his animals for company.
Dolittle’s solitude is disturbed when Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), a young boy with an uncanny connection with animals, accidentally shoots a squirrel. With the help of Polly the parrot (voice of Emma Thompson), Tommy finds his way to Dolittle’s estate and entreats Dolittle to help. At the same time, Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado), a young charge of the queen, arrives with the news that Her Majesty is deathly ill and need Dolittle to help her.
Quickly deducing that the queen has been poisoned and doesn’t have long to live, Dolittle sets out on an epic quest to find the antidote. In the process Dolittle follows in the footsteps of his wife, faces his fears and finally says goodbye to Lily. And with the help of unlikely friends, Dolittle saves the Kingdom from ruin along the way.
Death of a loved one, abandonment, grief, overcoming fear
Dolittle has some violence. For example:
- A man tries to make Tommy shoot some wild birds. Tommy misses on purpose and accidentally shoots a squirrel. He is then handed a knife and told to finish the job. He refuses to do it and runs away to save the squirrel instead.
- Mice act as pieces on a chess board as Dolittle and a gorilla play. The mice get whacked on the head.
- Cannons are repeatedly fired at Dolittle’s ship.
- Dolittle must try to avoid being killed by a tiger in a fighting pit.
- Guards chase and capture Tommy and Dolittle at sword point. They hold a knife to Dolittle’s throat.
- Dolittle and the British fleet that has been chasing him fight a dragon. Many of the soldiers perish in the battle.
Dolittle has some sexual references. For example:
- When a tiger is hit in the testicles, it says, ‘Ow. My Barry berries’.
- A dragon fly talks about his girlfriend being engaged to someone else.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Dolittle suggests some use of substances, including when poison is used on the queen.
Nudity and sexual activity
Dolittle has some mild coarse language. For example:
- There is one use of the word ‘damn’.
- ‘Oh my God’ is used as an exclamation.
- A man makes fun of Dolittle’s name, calling him ‘Doo- Doo’.
Dolittle also has some crude humour based on bottoms and passing wind. For example, a dragon passes wind, and another character talks about how he can ‘taste it’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Dolittle is a fantasy adventure movie, with a predictable plot but endearing characters. It’s best suited to families with slightly older children.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- To truly live, you must do what you love.
- Through helping others, we help ourselves.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include compassion, helpfulness, courage, communication and teamwork.
Dolittle could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues. These include the consequences of:
- seeking power and taking what doesn’t belong to you
- putting others down because they’re different
- encouraging a child to shoot a living creature
- capturing animals for personal gain, money or pleasure.