Directed by: Stephen Gaghan
Written by: Thomas Shepherd
Produced by: Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Susan Downey
Other cast: Robert Downey Jr., Harry Collett, Octavia Spencer
Release date: January 1, 2020 (New Zealand)
Premiere date: January 25, 2020 (UK)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
Running time: 101 minutes
After his wife's death, Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey, Jr.) decided to hide from the world with his beloved animals. But he has to take a journey to a mysterious island to find a healing tree, which is the only medicine that can help the dying Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) in Buckingham Palace.
In early Victorian-era Britain, Dr. John Dolittle is a Welsh veterinarian who has the ability to communicate with animals. After his wife, Lily, dies at sea, Dolittle becomes a recluse, tending only to animals and refusing to contact or assist with other humans. One day, a boy named Tommy Stubbins accidentally shoots and wounds a squirrel named Kevin and is guided to Dolittle for help by a macaw named Polynesia (or Poly).
Meanwhile, Queen Victoria sends a girl named Lady Rose with a message: she demands Dolittle to come in order to try to cure the queen of a deadly sickness. He refuses, but after being persuaded by Poly that he has to start trying to reconnect with fellow humans, Dolittle finally decides to go. Upon reaching her, he finds that the Queen has been poisoned by a type of nightshade that was added to her tea. To be cured, she must eat one of the magical fruits of Eden from a faraway land.
After Poly, Betsy the giraffe and Tutu the fox help Tommy escape from his home, he, Dolittle, and Dolittle’s crew of animals, consisting of Poly, Kevin, monkeys Elliot and Elsie, Chee-Chee the gorilla, Yoshi the polar bear, Plimpton the ostrich, Dab-Dab the duck and Mini the sugar glider, put to sail, hoping to find the cure while trying to escape Dolittle’s lifelong rival, Dr. Blair Müdfly. Dolittle leaves his lurcher Jip and a walking stick behind to guard the Queen while he’s traveling. Along the way, Dolittle’s boat is attacked by Müdfly, but they manage to escape by attaching a harness to a whale that pulls the boat to safety.
They continue to the island where Lily was born. While attempting to steal Lily’s journal which details the way to the fruit tree, Dolittle is captured by his former father-in-law King Rassouli and is locked in a cage with Barry, a moody tiger looking for his mother’s approval. Just when it seems Dolittle is to be killed, a now-courageous Chee-Chee arrives and incapacitates Barry. Dolittle and Tommy escape only to lose Lily’s journal to Müdfly and have their ship destroyed. After seeing a crestfallen Dolittle, Rassouli loans him a boat to honour his daughter.
Trailing Müdfly, Dolittle and company arrive at the cure tree’s island, where they meet Ginko-Who-Soars, a dragon who guards the tree since her husband’s death. Ginko begins attacking (even accidentally make Müdfly fall into a hole) before she collapses due to internal pain. Dolittle figures out what is hurting the dragon and proceeds to perform a dragon enema. Relieved and thankful, Ginko shows Dolittle the tree with the cure.
Dolittle’s entourage returns just in time to heal the queen. Dolittle’s walking stick reveals that Lord Thomas Badgley, one of the Queen’s chairmen, poisoned her in order to take the crown for himself, and was the one who ordered Müdfly to fail Dolittle’s quest (who Müdfly decided to take it as an opportunity to finally beat Dolittle). The Queen has him arrested for treason, and thanks Dolittle for saving her.
Dolittle re-opens the doors to his sanctuary, now including Tommy as his official apprentice.
In a mid-credits scene, Müdfly, who had survive his fall, is trying to talk with the bats who turn around and attack him.