Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of April 6, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of April 6, 2020

Dolittle
Rated PG for some action, rude humor and brief language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 15%
Available on Disc and Streaming

For years I’ve been waiting for a remake of one of my favorite childhood movie musicals: 1967’s Oscar-winning Doctor Dolittle (I’m not quite that old, but discovered it when I was young). It’s been begging for a special effects-driven adaptation and upon first hearing of this project, I thought we would actually get it. But alas I was wrong again. In this newest attempt to bring the doctor back, Robert Downey Jr. stars as the 19th century veterinarian who can somehow talk to animals, and has many of them as his best friends. For some strange reason, he is summoned to the bed of the young Queen of England who is dying of an unknown illness, forcing him to go on an adventure to find the one thing that might cure her. The plot doesn’t make any sense, but the actual story of the adventure somewhat works. The problem is that there is nothing here for adults. The story seems to only works for kids, who also tend to lose attention from what I noticed. You couldn’t ask for a better director than Stephen Gaghan, and the voice cast, including Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes and many others, is so loaded that you would think that it was too big to fail. But it does fail with a lack of energy that is surprisingly low. It looks beautiful and ambitious from the outside and once in you realize how empty and hollow it truly is. But while this one fails to deliver the product promised, I’m still holding up hope that some day I will get to see the 60’s musical version get the modern treatment it deserves. For now I’ll just continue to be disappointed in flailing attempts like this. C-

Little Women
Rated PG for thematic elements and brief smoking
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Available on Disc and Streaming

From writer/director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), comes this adaptation of the classic Civil War era novel by Louisa May Alcott about a family of girls with ambitions that far outweigh their place in society, while they must also deal with life, love and the expectations placed on them. Having never read the novel, I really thought that was going to be one of my favorites of 2020. After all, I have an affinity for Jane Austen, and when you gather such a stellar cast, including Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet and Meryl Streep, how could you go wrong. But what I learned quickly was that because this was one of the earliest stories of its kind, it didn’t fit into the modern formula, and as much as I like unconventional, it doesn’t give me the pleasure of the formula. For example, Jane Austen excels at the “meet cute” where the romantic leads discover each other’s existence in some fun and unusual way. Here you discover the pseudo romantic leads as long-time friends feeling out something deeper. That kind of element just doesn’t pull you in the same way. It’s not wrong, but it’s also not as effective. That being said, the writing and directing are academically fantastic and the acting is a flat-out masterclass. In addition, the score by Alexandre Desplat is one of the best of the year and demands to be listened to sans film. So while I can’t say it delivered on my expectations, it still delivered a fine film that is highly enjoyable and equally thought-provoking. B+

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