January 17, 2020
More Boring, Sexist, and Racist Than I Remembered
My entire adult life (I’m currently 53), I’ve always considered my three favorite films from childhood to be Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Doctor Dolittle. Since having children of my own (currently 5 and 8), we’ve watched Wonka and Chitty repeatedly as a family, and my daughters seem to love those films as much as I do. With the new Robert Downey Jr. version of Dolittle coming out, I figured it was high time we all watched the 1967 original, which we did last night. And what an eye-opening disappointment it was. For one thing, unlike Wonka and (most of) Chitty, Doctor Dolittle is slow and boring. Sure, Chitty is also long and has a few slow moments, but they pass quickly. The 1967 Dolittle, on the other hand, is tedious from start to finish and will bore the pants off most children. Also, the music isn’t nearly on a par with the other films, despite the contribution of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, who later did such an excellent job with Willy Wonka. Even the songs that I remembered fondly, particularly Talk to the Animals, are marred by Rex Harrison’s borderline tuneless recitative style of talk-singing. The far more tuneful memories I had in my head of the songs must have come from having heard at some point different renditions, perhaps the Sammy Davis Junior versions. Most troubling of all was the terrible treatment of the female lead. who is forced to do menial labor on the sea voyage while the men lounge around, all to prove that she’s better than a lowly woman and almost the equal to a man. When my 5 year old daughter asked me “Why does she want to be different from who she is?” I felt I’d made a mistake in showing my kids the film without having first rewatched it with my wife to know what we were getting into. I’m not even going to go into the racist, stereotypical presentation of the African tribe, as it’s just an additional embarrassment added to an already embarrassing film. All of the forgoing might - might - be excusable if the film were moderately entertaining, but it’s not. Doctor Dolittle is a tedious chore to slog through. I highly recommend that any parents who are thinking of watching this with their young children based on fond memories of having done so in their own childhood rewatch the film first without the kids, as I wish I had done, to make sure they’re really okay with their kids watching it.
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April 26, 2019
Very cute! A little long, with many songs.
My daughter (6) really liked it. Fast forwarded through quite a few songs because of the time and length of the movie. But, she LOVED all the animals! Very cute movie!
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October 22, 2014
May or may not appeal to adults, but definitely for kids!
Mainstream critics didn't like this movie. For a long time I couldn't understand why. After all, when I was a teenager I was anxious to see it. I liked it then. When I saw it over a decade and a half later as an adult I felt differently. While I still thought that it was wholesome, I didn't think that the artistic quality was particularly good. The Catholic Conference, whose views I typically don't agree with, said in 1988, "Musical purists won't like it, but others, especially children, will." That sums it up. Those who haven't been exposed to many musicals will like this movie. Had I not seen so many musicals I'd still like this movie to this day. But, having seen numerous musicals, "Doctor Dolittle" is a pseudomusical. This movie would've been better if it had been either a complete musical or a complete nonmusical. But it won't make any difference to children. Plop it in for them and they'll love it. This version is far more appropriate for them than the newer version.
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April 2, 2011
better than the newer version
i loved it and i thought it was better than the new version a wonderful movie to see