Robert Downey Jr. is the ultimate animal whisperer in first trailer for 'Dolittle'

Robert Downey Jr. plays Dr. Dolittle in the just-released film trailer. (Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Iron Man is showing off his softer side in a new family-friendly fantasy film.

On Sunday the trailer for Dolittle — based on Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle children’s character, previously portrayed on screen by the late Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy — was released. Due in theaters on Jan. 17, 2020, the epic adventure sees Robert Downey Jr. as the titular doctor, famed for his ability to communicate with animals.

And what animals they are. Rocking an English accent, Downey’s Victorian-era animal whisperer speaks and bonds with a bevy of CGI beasts, from Rami Malek’s fearful gorilla Chee-Chee, to Emma Thompson’s bossy parrot Polynesia. John Cena, Ralph Fiennes, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard, Carmen Ejogo, Kumail Nanjiani and Craig Robinson also voice creatures in the Stephen Gaghan-directed film.

On the human side, there’s Antonio Banderas flashing fierce glances with his lined eyes, with newcomer Harry Collett cast as Dolittle’s young apprentice, Tommy Stubbins.

While the film itself has reportedly battled delays and fine-tuning, the trailer’s sweeping landscapes, period costumes, majestic whales and galloping ostriches and a sentimental soundtrack of “What a Wonderful World” have huge appeal. To quote the good vet Dolittle: “We have no choice but to embark on this perilous journey.”

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