Watch Robert Downey Jr. Talk to Animals in First 'Dolittle' Trailer - Rolling Stone
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Watch Robert Downey Jr. Talk to Animals in First ‘Dolittle’ Trailer

Actor turns doctor into swashbuckler in Victorian spin on classic children’s book character

Robert Downey Jr. communicates with the animal kingdom in the first trailer for Dolittle, the latest big-screen adaptation of the classic children’ book character.

“I’ve been talking to animals for years now…And they finally started talking back,” the actor tweeted Sunday along with the trailer. “Does this mean I was getting the silent treatment?”

As opposed to Eddie Murphy’s version of the story, Downey’s take on the character is less Doctor and more swashbuckler, with Dolittle and his cadre of creatures embarking on an adventure on the high seas in Victorian times.

“After losing his wife seven years earlier, the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle, famed doctor, and veterinarian of Queen Victoria’s England, hermits himself away behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his menagerie of exotic animals for company,” the film’s synopsis states.

“But when the young queen falls gravely ill, a reluctant Dolittle is forced to set sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island in search of a cure, regaining his wit and courage as he crosses old adversaries and discovers wondrous creatures. The doctor is joined on his quest by a young, self-appointed apprentice and a raucous coterie of animal friends, including an anxious gorilla (voiced by Rami Malek), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck (Octavia Spencer), a bickering duo of a cynical ostrich (Kumail Nanjiani) and an upbeat polar bear (John Cena) and a headstrong parrot (Emma Thompson), who serves as Dolittle’s most trusted advisor and confidante.”

Dolittle also features Antonio Banderas and Michael Sheen in human roles, while Downey’s Avengers apprentice Tom Holland, the Peter Parker to Downey’s Tony Stark, also lends his voice to one of the animals.

The Stephen Gaghan-directed film opens January 17th.

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