Further solidifying January as the month where movies go to die, the big-budget Dolittle starring Robert Downey Jr. as the titular doctor really crapped the bed at the box office. Right now it's "projected to lose up to $100 million". Media reports seem to be focusing on the fact that Downey's "first post-Mavel movie" is a turd, and some are even questioning whether the abject suckiness of Dolittle will bring Downey back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, presumably as Tony Stark's estranged twin brother Tommy.
But should we really be surprised at this? We've understandably become used to primarily watching Downey don armored pajamas to fight space goblins; between the first Avengers (2012) movie and Endgame (2019) he's only starred in one non-Marvel film, The Judge (2014). But we may be forgetting who Robert Downey Jr. is as an actor-- a dude with a weird-ass resume full of literal garbage and straight-up classics.
Dolittle isn't even the first terrible animal-based family comedy he's been in, lest we forget Disney's The Shaggy Dog, the 2006 remake of the '50s comedy, starring Tim Allen as a lawyer who turns into a bearded collie thanks to both science and magic (and creative laziness). Yes, just three years before he helped launch the most successful film franchise of all time, Downey was playing an evil geneticist opposite the star of Home Improvement. If that wasn't degrading enough, the big finale involved Downey going full Rob Schneider.
This was also the same year he starred in Richard Linklater's trippy Philip K. Dick adaptation A Scanner Darkly, and one year before he appeared in the legitimate masterpiece that is Zodiac. His IMDB page is a veritable minefield of forgotten turkeys, from the Halle Berry thriller Gothika to a short film in which a shirtless Downey breaks into James Cameron's office and, oddly enough, suggests himself for the role of Spider-Man.
Even before his arrest and the ensuing scandal he made some pretty baffling career decisions. Downey followed-up his Oscar-nominated performance in Chaplin with Heart and Souls, a romantic comedy in which the dead victims of a bus crash help a middle-aged banker with his relationship problems.
The point is, Dolittle's failure isn't indicative that something's gone wrong. It means that Robert Downey Jr. is finally back to being Robert Downey Jr.
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