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'Dolittle': Release date, plot, cast, trailer and all you need to know about the film starring Robert Downey Jr

‘Dolittle’ looks decidedly ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’-esque with raging seas, colorful visuals and, of course, talking animals.

When you hear the name Dr. Dolittle, your brain probably lands right on the late-90’s comedy where Eddie Murphy could talk to animals. Few remember the inspiration behind the film and its many sequels — a series of children's books by Hugh Lofting during and after the First World War. But that may soon change. Robert Downey Jr, in a thoroughly non-Iron Man role after many, many years, is all set to bring the British doctor from the Victorian era back to life.

‘Dolittle’ looks decidedly ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’-esque with raging seas, colorful visuals and, of course, talking animals. This adventure film is also sure to be a respite for all the fans who mourned the death of Downey Jr’s Iron Man in ‘Avengers: Endgame’.

Release Date:

‘Dolittle’ hits theaters on January 17, 2020.


According to Universal Pictures, the story follows the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle seven years after the death of his wife. The famed doctor, in grief, turns into a hermit and isolates himself behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his menagerie of exotic animals for company.

But when the young queen (Jessie Buckley) falls gravely ill, “a reluctant Dolittle is forced to set sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island in search of a cure”. In his epic quest,  the doctor is joined by a young, self-appointed apprentice (Harry Collett) and a “raucous coterie of animal friends”, including an anxious gorilla (Rami Malek), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck (Octavia Spencer), a cynical ostrich (Kumail Nanjiani), an upbeat polar bear (John Cena) and a headstrong parrot (Emma Thompson).

As per a report in The Guardian, the film is based on Lofting’s 1922 book, ‘The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle’, the second volume of the doctor’s adventures and not the first, ‘The Story of Doctor Dolittle’.


Robert Downey Jr as Dr. Dolittle

Robert Downey Jr.attends the world premiere of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures 'Avengers: Endgame' at the Los Angeles Convention Center on April 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

Downey Jr is perhaps most famous for his recurring role as the superhero Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The 54-year-old actor and producer entered show business at an early age and over time, gained critical acclaim for his roles in ‘Chaplin’, ‘Short Cuts’ and ‘Avengers’.

Tom Holland as Jip

Tom Holland attends the premiere of Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man Far From Home" at TCL Chinese Theatre on June 26, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Getty Images)

Tom will be playing the role of Dolittle's sidekick, Jip. Jip is Dolittle's dog — who in the 1967 version was a golden retriever with an unbelievable sense of smell, according to the movie's Wikipedia page. Now, Jip is going to appear as a scruffy grey mutt, voiced by Holland. A co-actor of Downey Jr in several Marvel films, Holland rose to fame with his roles as Spiderman/Peter Parker in ‘Captain America: Civil War’.

Michael Sheen as Mudfly

Michael Sheen of the television show ‘Good Omens’ speaks during the Amazon Prime Video Session of the 2019 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on February 13, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Getty Images)

Sheen will be playing Dolittle's sidekick in the film. Sheen has TV series like 'Prodigal Son' and Amazon series ‘Good Omens’ that make him a popular name on the small screen. The 50-year-old Welsh actor’s career is littered with critically-acclaimed and commercially successful films. Sheen was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2009.

Rami Malek as Chee-Chee

Rami Malek attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Getty Images)

He plays an anxious gorilla in the film. With outstanding performances in films and shows like ‘Mr. Robot’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Bojack Horseman’, the 38-year-old Egyptian-American actor needs little introduction.

Emma Thompson as Polynesia

Emma Thompson attends the 'Alone in Berlin' (Jeder stirbt fuer sich) premiere during the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Berlinale Palace on February 15, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

Emma voices a headstrong parrot in the film. The 60-year-old British thespian is best-known for her performances in ‘The Remains of the Day’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Love Actually’, the ‘Harry Potter’ series and ‘Nanny McPhee’.

Ralph Fiennes as Barry

Ralph Fiennes at the CineMerit Gala for Ralph Fiennes during the Munich Film Festival at Gasteig on July 01, 2019 in Munich, Germany. British actor and director Ralph Fiennes is awarded the CineMerit prize for his great contribution to the international film industry. (Getty Images)

Ralph Fiennes voices a tiger in the film. Another renowned Britsh actor, Fiennes is perhaps best remembered for his portrayal of ‘Harry Potter’ villain Lord Voldemort. His role as the Nazi commander Amon Goth in ‘Schindler’s List’ was critically acclaimed.

Marion Cotillard as Tutu 

Marion Cotillard attends the screening of "La Belle Epoque" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Getty Images)

The beautiful Marion will be playing a fox in the film. The 40-year-old French actress, singer-songwriter, musician is best known for her work in ‘Inception’ where she plays the role of Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife Mal. She has also starred in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, ‘The Big Fish’, ‘Public Enemies and more.

Kumail Nanjiani as Plimpton 

Kumail Nanjiani attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

He plays an ostrich in the film. The Pakistani-American stand-up comedian, actor, and writer is best known for his role as the geeky Dinesh Chugtai in HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’. The actor also received praise for writing, and starring in the comedy, ‘The Big Sick*’.

Antonio Banderas as Rassouli

Antonio Banderas, winner of the Best Actor award for "Dolor Y Gloria", poses at the winner photocall during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 25, 2019 in Cannes, France.

The handsome hero will be playing the mysterious Rassouli in the film. The Spanish actor and producer is most famous for playing the titular character in ‘The Mask of Zorro’. The 59-year-old has also appeared in several Robert Rodriguez films such as the ‘Mexico Trilogy’ and the ‘Spy Kids’ series.

John Cena as Yoshi 

John Cena attends the red carpet for 'Bumblebee' at Comic-Con International 2018 on July 20, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Getty Images)

Cena lends his voice to polar bear Yoshi in the film. The 42-year-old American professional wrestler, actor and rapper has appeared in several commercially successful films such as ‘Surf's Up 2: WaveMania’, ‘The Marine’, ‘12 Rounds’ and ‘Bumblebee’.


Stephen Gaghan

Gaghan is an American director and screenwriter. He wrote the screenplay for the 2000 award-winning American crime drama, ‘Traffic’. He won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for the same.


The trailer opens with a shot of a parrot soaring through the air as ‘What a Wonderful World’ plays in the background. As we see monkeys running a dilapidated old manor, a girl asks, “Are you, Dr. Dolittle?”

Instantly, arrives Downey Jr, flipping a top hat, armed with an Irish accent. And lo and behold, the adventure begins. As we traipse through the trailer, we are introduced to the main characters in the tale: the animals! A goose here, a giraffe there; an ostrich, a gorilla, a parrot, and even a Royal Bengal Tiger. In an almost Disney movie-like fashion, the trailer shows the sea, the rough-looking villain, and of course, animals and the carnage they bring forth.


If you like Dolittle, you might like these:

‘Pirates of the Carribean’,


‘King Kong’,

‘Life of Pi’, 

‘The Jungle Book’