Brow Beat

Dolittles, Ranked

Robert Downey Jr., surrounded by animals, in a promotional image from Dolittle.
How does the newest Dolittle stack up?
Universal

The animals are talking, the critics are howling, and Hugh Lofting is spinning in his grave, which can only mean one thing: There’s a new Dolittle in town! The newest Dolittle is a feature adaptation of the popular children’s books starring Robert Downey Jr.—but more importantly, it’s a chance for Slate to revisit its official ranking of Dolittles. As long-time readers know, whenever a new Dolittle arrives, Slate is responsible for using the latest scientific methods to rank all known Dolittles, by appointment to his majesty the King of Sweden. So without any further a-Dolittle—and more importantly, without any explanation whatsoever as to why we consider one Dolittle better or worse than another—here is Slate’s official list of Dolittles, ranked from worst to best, for the first quarter of 2020.

50. Dolittle (2019), a feature film starring Robert Downey, Jr.
49. Dr. Dolittle 3 (2006), a direct-to-video film starring Kyla Pratt.
48. Sears Polydore Doolittle, author of several excruciatingly dull agricultural treatises including “The Mosaic Disease of Cucurbits” (1920) and “Muskmelons” (1951).
47. The Doolittle Report, a 1954 study of the C.I.A. in which James Doolittle concluded that the Soviet Union’s perfidy meant “norms of human conduct do not apply” to the Cold War.
46. The Dolittle Family, a fictional family featured in a Wall Street Journal editorial from 1930 that blamed the Great Depression on “too many additions to the Dolittle family,” who “throw up their hands and quit on the first sign of a slowing up in business.” They are contrasted with the Keepgoing Family, who sound like real saps.
45. James R. Doolittle, a senator from Wisconsin.
44. Doctor Dolittle’s Post Office (1923), a book by Hugh Lofting.
43. Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), a feature film starring Eddie Murphy.
42. Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals.
41. Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake (1948), a book by Hugh Lofting.
40. Sean Doolittle, a crime novelist from Nebraska.
39. Dolittle, a programming language that uses Japanese script.
38. Robert Dolittel, who was granted a royal pardon for some crime or other in 1303 “by reason of his services in Scotland.”
37. The Poems of the Late James C. Doolittle, Compiled by Mrs. J. C. Doolittle (1858), a self-published volume of mediocre verse.
36. Enos Doolittle, a late 18th century businessman who ran a bell foundry and repaired watches, clocks, and compasses in Hartford, Connecticut.
35. General James Harold Doolittle, the author of the Doolittle Report and the commander of the Doolittle Raid.
34. Doctor Dolittle’s Zoo (1925), a book by Hugh Lofting.
33. Doolittle, Missouri, pop. 630.
32. Doctor Dolittle’s Birthday Book (1936), a book by Hugh Lofting.
31. Doctor Dolittle, an animated NBC show that aired in the 1970–1971 television season.
30. Doctor Dolittle’s Circus (1924), a book by Hugh Lofting.
29. John J. Doolittle, the co-proprietor of Bogert & Doolittle, a merchant tailor shop in Buffalo, New York, in the late 19th century, specializing in men’s and boys’ clothing.
28. Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary (1950), a book by Hugh Lofting.
27. Dr. Dolittle (1998), a feature film starring Eddie Murphy.
26. Doctor Dolittle’s Garden (1927), a book by Hugh Lofting.
25. Mr. Glucose Doolittle, the protagonist of “Hiring a Cook,” an 1886 short story by Francis B. Hayes of Boston about the difficulties of conducting business with the Irish.
24. Doolittle, Texas, pop. 2,769.
23. Doctor Dolittle (1998), a stage musical based on the 1967 film Doctor Dolittle.
22. The Doolittle Raid, a 1942 attack on the Japanese home islands that raised morale in the wake of Pearl Harbor.
21. Doctor Dolittle’s Return (1933), a book by Hugh Lofting.
20. Doctor Dolittle (1967), a feature film starring Rex Harrison.
19. Doctor Dolittle’s Puddleby Adventures (1952), a book by Hugh Lofting.
18. Thomas Doolittle, a nonconformist minister and the author of A Treatise Concerning the Lord’s Supper, With Three Dialogues for the More Full Information of the Weak in the Nature and Use of This Sacrament (1665).
17. Eliza Doolittle, the protagonist of Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s musical My Fair Lady.
16. Eliza Doolittle, the protagonist of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.
15. Doctor Dolittle’s Caravan (1926), a book by Hugh Lofting.
14. Do-Little, an English noun meaning “A person who does little.”
13. Alfred P. Doolittle, a character in Pygmalion and My Fair Lady; hero of the undeserving poor.
12. The Story of Doctor Dolittle, a book by Hugh Lofting.
11. The Honorable Dapper Dolittle, a character in The Comic Mirror: Or, The World as It Wags. With Alterations and Additions, a play performed at the Grand Saloon, Exeter Change, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights in the summer of 1775.
10. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922), a book by Hugh Lofting.
9. Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts (2009), a direct-to-video film in which Norm MacDonald provides the voice of a dog.
8. Doctor Dolittle in the Moon (1928), a book by Hugh Lofting.
7. Daddy Dolittle, the protagonist of an anonymous 1910 short story entitled “Daddy Dolittle: A Story for the Littlest People.”
6. Mr. Simon Salubrious Dolittle, a character played by Richard Keeley in Gipsy Father, a two-act play performed at Covent Garden in 1831.
5. Humphrey Dolittle of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, who “ſuddenly dropt down in the Street, and inſtantly expired” on Jan. 7, 1763.
4. William Dolittle Weariman, a fictional hobo featured in the Chicago Tribune’s 1910 “What Did the Hobo Say? $5 For the Wittiest Answer” contest.
3. Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief (2008), a direct-to-video film in which Norm MacDonald provides the voice of a dog.
2. Doing very little, as a concept and way of life.
1. Doolittle, a 1989 album by the Pixies.

Good night, and congratulations to all the Dolittles!