The detractors of this film and of the books is based on, should study a little history first and frame this story in its historic contest.
The inventor of Doolittle and his adventure was a, surprise!, nerd called Hugh John Lofting who was born in West England in 1886, during the second half of the Victorian era. His biography tells us that the guy was passionate about nature and loved animals since his early childhood and also loved to tell his siblings fairy tales he himself invented.
Lofting was a very modern man for his time and chose to become a civil engineer to travel the world, eager as he was to know new cultures and meet new people. He started to travel as a student, choosing to study in America, at the MIT (a very modern and unusual choice for a British man of his background).
He worked a lot in British Africa, where he didn’t like the way the Brits treated the locals, as he stated in some of the letters he sent his loved ones.
A convinced pacifist in a time when everyone wanted to destroy and conquer and kill, he was recruited to fight in that slaughterhouse that was WWI and there, in the trenches, he had the strength to invent Doolittle for his kids, since he didn’t want to tell them what was really happening on the front line nor what he was facing every day. He was a good artist too, so he managed to illustrate his letters with beautiful, Victorian-style drawings that made his children smile.
All this, to give you an idea of who Lofting was, of how modern he was ACCORDING TO HIM TIME AND BACKGROUND. Why do I underline this? Because, of course, if you read his books you’ll still find that white men (especially Brits) are considered superior to anyone else and that he only partially, and very subtly, criticized the British Empire and its horrid colonial policy but, at least, he criticized it. Ad he was the only intellectual who did it at the time, screaming into the void.
Now, after having given you a little contest, I can proceed with this film’s review and tell you that I TRULY LOVED IT.
Besides the fantastic visuals, a talented cast and a particularly amazing Robert Downey jr., the pace is perfect, the director, against all odds, delivers beautifully (that’s his first children movie) and we have a solid story, faithful to the times it’s set in, which is the early Victorian era. So, Queen Victoria is, by default, second only to God (as she was seen at the time) the Empire is, mostly (see above) a laudable institution and of course Western culture is the best of the best.
BUT, it is also said that it’s necessary to learn to communicate with those who are different from us, whether they’re animals or other population. Because having an effective dialogue with who’s different is the first pillar to collaborate, have a productive exchange and, ultimately, to live in peace, which was so important to the young man who saw the horrors of the WWI trenches and got life-changing injuries while on the front line.
So, I choose to go against the haters and recommend a movie that preaches veganism and respect for all creatures. I promise, that you’ll have fun and feel good afterwards and your kids might learn a lesson of empathy and tolerance while having the time of their life.