CGI Animals and a Daffy Robert Downey Jr. Performance Make for a Feather-Brained ‘Dolittle’

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CREDIT: Universal Pictures

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Harry Collett, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Carmel Laniado, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard, Jason Mantzoukas, Frances de la Tour

Director: Stephen Gaghan

Running Time: 106 Minutes

Rating: PG for Mild Animal Chaos

Release Date: January 17, 2020

It’s not a great sign when my favorite part of a movie is the end credits revealing who all the voice actors were, especially when it’s a movie about talking to animals, because … I love talking to animals! Not necessarily in the Dr. Dolittle sense, but if I did have that ability, I would be happy to use it. As for Robert Downey Jr.’s version of the classic fictional veterinarian, I wouldn’t say that he is unhappy about his interspecies communication abilities, but he is making some odd choices, what with an unplaceable accent while barely opening his mouth whenever he talks to the point that it seems like he is practicing his ventriloquism. Dolittle is a movie whose existence in 2020 I’m having trouble fathoming, but despite that, I can’t say that I doubt Downey’s commitment, however strange it may be.

Anyway, the plot is some fever dream logic-driven concoction about how a reclusive Dr. Dolittle, hiding away in his home following the death of his wife, is summoned to set out on an adventure to find a cure for a deathly ill young Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley). Naturally enough, his animal friends join him to help out, and their presence on this journey just feels too unremarkable. Perhaps that has to do with the reliance on CGI, which renders these creatures less adorable and more just humans with fur or feathers or scales. For the most part, then, Dolittle is a mix of humdrum when it should be goofy and ridiculous when it should be straightforward. Although, there is one part when Dr. Dolittle removes a set of bagpipes from a dragon’s colon, so this endeavor wasn’t a total disappointment.

Dolittle is Recommended If You Have: A Bottomless Appreciation for CGI Animal Hijinx

Grade: 1.5 out of 5 Quacks

Best 2019 Super Bowl Commercials

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It’s time to reboot the Super Bowl commercials. What was the deal with Bud Light’s corn syrup obsession. It wasn’t annoying, nor was it anti-brilliant (I don’t think), it was just puzzling. Here’s my top 5:

5. Dietz and Watson, “Craig Robinson Likes Dietz Nuts” – Craig Robinson saying “Dietz nuts”: I can’t help but laugh.

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This Is a Movie Review: ‘Tragedy Girls’ is Pleasantly Gory But Hampered by a Muddled Social Message

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CREDIT: Gunpowder & Sky

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2017.

Starring: Alexandra Shipp, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Quaid, Kevin Durand, Nicky Whelan, Craig Robinson

Director: Tyler MacIntyre

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Rating: R for Sanguine Hacking and Squirting

Release Date: October 20, 2017 (Limited)

Is it possible to be so addicted to social media status that it drives you to serial killing? Tragedy Girls sure seems to think so. But the way it presents this scenario is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg situation. When we meet high school besties McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) and Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand), they are already both rising Instagram stars AND in the midst of a killing spree. Their attention for fame does not fuel their bloodlust so much as the former provides a channel to express the latter. Any satirical point about how social media obsessions can be deadly is blunted by how much their murderousness is just a part of their nature.

But maybe Tragedy Girls isn’t really meant to be a takedown of what the kids are up to these days. Maybe it is more just the latest profile of banal evil that lurks in supposedly picture-perfect suburbia. Shipp and Hildebrand are certainly committed enough to pull that off, their delightedly and delightfully psychotic performances the highlight of the film. They seem to be operating in a bit of a Zodiac vibe, where part of the thrill is acting as amateur journalists of their own spree.

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t much matter when everything else around them is a bit too scattershot. Famous faces like Josh Hutcherson and Craig Robinson pop up, only to be quickly dispatched. In the case of the latter, his presence makes sense, since he is also a producer. But Hutch is clearly there as a favor to someone so that there is a big name to be splashy with promotional materials, but in the actual product, he is a distraction from what could have been an unassuming, low-budget charmer.

Tragedy Girls is worth recommending somewhat for the fun of its murderous set pieces. The gore is smeared with squishy goodness and fully imbued with glee. McKayla and Sadie are practically magical in how clean and precise their slicing and dicing (and cleanup!) skills are. It’s enough to remind us the joy of feeding our taste for violence on screen and the safety of eschewing it in real life.

Tragedy Girls is Recommended If You Like: Final Destination at its most cartoonish, the Child’s Play series, Jennifer’s Body

Grade: 2 out of 5 Haters Ruining Prom