Written by Helen Aberson/Harold Pearl, Directed by Tim Burton, and starring Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito, Disney’s Dumbo is the tale of a flying elephant who saves a struggling circus which lost performers and an audience due to WWII. When the small circus is acquired by a slick entertainment conglomerate, Dumbo and his friends discover the new circus owner’s dark agenda.
Full disclosure, I’m no Disney fan nor fan of fairy tales. I’m the mom who told my daughter’s teachers to inform me if they were planning on ready any fairy tales in class because I didn’t want her listening to that drivel without me being there to explain the drivel. I’m also the mom who let it be known there was no Santa Clause, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, but that’s another story for another movie and another time. Nevertheless, she lived through it, and grew up to be an outstanding, well-adjusted, well-rounded, independent thinker, and a positive contributor to society. On to the review,,,
Burton hasn’t been burning up the cinema lately, having last directed Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children (2016) (my review in the link), but with “Dumbo” he shows a lot more restraint and is better off for it. He still resorted back to his old bag of tricks, but it felt nice here, not forced.
Given our recent consciousness regarding animal abuses at circuses and zoos, “Dumbo” isn’t the choicest material to attempt to “freshen up” but Burton did what he could. I’m sort of hoping this is the last go round for this story because knowing what I know now, Dumbo made me cringe at times. The story puts us in a “when you know better, you do better,” situation.
The opening credits were so cheesy I thought I was in for a true disaster and was poised to go for my refund. Then Colin Farrell showed up and did absolutely nothing to change my mind. But somewhere along the way things improved for a decent second act and the ending sort of evened things out to average.
As far as the acting, the adult veterans dominate the space and leave very little for up and comers to do. I was staring at Nico Parker reminding me of a young Angelina Jolie through the entire film and it ate at me until I had to know who this kid is related to. It turns out her mother is Thandie Newton. (Hmmmm… Could it be that Thandie and Angelina resemble one another and I never noticed? This thought may cause you to snicker a bit, but go watch The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) or even Imitation of Life (1959) and tell me there aren’tat least two frames where Lana Turner looks just like Beyonce in the face.) I don’t know how well the young lady can act, because of the limitations of this material. She didn’t stink up the place though, so there’s that at least, Finley Hobbins, the young man who plays Parker’s brother, contributed even less.
Technically, there is nothing wrong with Dumbo, but neither is there anything particularly special about it. The effects are fine. Dumbo’s flying is fun. There are a couple of laughs. There are a couple of moments of suspense. The ending is, of course, a pat, Disney-happy ending where the good guys win and the bad guys get punished somehow. Meh!
Dumbo earned 6 out of 10 bloops. It was okay but could have been better (always consider the source). When it is smart to leave a movie in the original era in which it was set, one has to question whether a remake is even necessary. Perhaps as one moviegoer who is not only genuinely tired of remakes, but also a person who believes some material should just be left alone, I could have done without this one altogether. The kids may enjoy it and it is entertaining enough for you not to fall asleep, if you’re not too tired. …What a glowing endorsement!
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is a work in progress.)
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade Vice Roma
Mary Queen of Scots Widows The Favourite
Green Book Halloween Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody Beautiful Boy The Hate U Give
First Man Assassination Nation The Oath
A Star is Born The House with a Clock in Its Walls A Simple Favor
The Predator BlackkKlansman Support the Girls
Peppermint Christopher Robin Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders RBG Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage A Quiet Place Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time Lady Bird I, Tonya
The Florida Project Black Panther Molly’s Game
The Post Phantom Thread Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World Coco The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist Call Me By Your Name
Victoria and Abdul Thor: Ragnarok Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother! It Good Time
Atomic Blonde Dunkirk Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming The Big Sick Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me It Comes at Night The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman Everything, everything King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw Kong: Skull Island Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts A Cure for Wellness Get Out
Hidden Figures Fences Moonlight
Hell or High Water Loving La La Land
Lion Manchester by the Sea Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge Nocturnal Animals Captain Fantastic
Elle Jackie I Am Not Your Negro