If the set wasn’t being bombed, the giraffe was stepping on its ...

Ideas

If the set wasn’t being bombed, the giraffe was stepping on its own penis

What a turkey! Robert Downey jnr’s ‘Dolittle’ may be a disaster, but wait till you hear about the 1967 original

Tim Robey

The verdict is in on Robert Downey jnr’s Dolittle, and it is not kind.

After dismal reviews in the US, this $175m, effects-laden reboot is predicted to lose $100m for Universal – the studio’s second animal-themed bomb in as many months, after Cats.

Of all the fateful decisions they got wrong attempting this latest version of Hugh Lofting's children’s books, one should have been obvious. Would they go down the route of Eddie Murphy’s Dr Dolittle (1998) – a breezy, if basic, present-day romp which had nothing to do with Lofting beyond the name and talks-to-the-animals concept, and made $300m? Or would they go full period with Lofting’s menagerie, cast Downey as a dandyish Victorian vet with a bizarre Welsh accent, and hope for the best? Staring them in the face were the lessons of the last, exorbitantly budgeted attempt at a faithful film adaptation of Dolittle’s globe-trotting adventures – a feature so calamitous it nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox in 1967...

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