The new live-action Dumbo that recently came out is not quite the Classic Disney movie from the 40s that it’s based on. It starts off with a couple of kids waiting at a train station for their dad who’s just come back from serving in World War 1 and them hesitatingly going to him when they see he’s lost his arm. While he was gone his two kids Molly and Joe were being watched by the circus troupe that he and his late wife had headlined at for years. The dad Holt comes back to the happiness and pity of his fellows and wants to go back to the way things were and headline again as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for him under financial straits, the troupe leader Medici (played by Danny DeVito) sold the horses that were the meat and potatoes of the act. Begging for any work any at all, Holt finds himself assigned to tend to the Elephants.
One Elephant in particular, Mrs. Jumbo, seems to be a handful. Appearing sickly and Medici complains about how he was swindled by the seller. Little did they know though Mrs. Jumbo was pregnant and the next day they discover Jumbo Jr. hiding in the hay of their enclosure. Much to Medici’s displeasure Jumbo Jr. has extraordinarily large ears and he orders that Holt hide Jumbo Jr.’s ears for the upcoming show. Holt ends up hiding the ears by tucking them into a large baby bonnet. Disaster strikes during the show though, Jumbo Jr.’s ears are revealed and the audience is quick to mock and pelt Jumbo Jr. with peanuts. They even give him the cruel name Dumbo because the letters on his introductory sign fell down inconveniently to spell that. Mrs.Jumbo was enraged and tried to protect her calf. She started to trample around and roar at the crowd, ending in the tent having to be evacuated. In the scuffle, Mrs. Jumbo knocks over a beam that falls on and kills an Elephant handler that had previously been cruel to her and Dumbo. After the whole debacle, Mrs. Jumbo is locked up all by herself waiting to be sold for half of what she was sold for. She and Dumbo have a bittersweet moment where they hold trunks out the prison-like window and fall asleep. After Mrs. Jumbo is sold Dumbo is inconsolable but the kids try to cheer him up with a bag of peanuts. They eventually get Dumbo’s attention but he accidentally inhales a feather and sneezes. Much to the kids’ delight, this leads to Dumbo being sent several feet into the air and as they quickly learn his oversized ears act as wings and he can fly around, all he apparently needs is a feather and a sneeze.
In a later performance, Dumbo now playing the role of a clown firefighter is meant to put out the fake flames of a burning building. Although as what usually happens in his life things go wrong and he ends up stuck at the top of the burning building unable to get down. The children shout for him to fly but he is much too scared without an encouraging feather, so Molly in a risky move climbs up a ladder and attempts to give him a feather. The ladder breaks and she ends up falling down herself unharmed, but her mission was accomplished and Dumbo makes a daring escape and sails around the tent showing everyone he can fly. His seemingly magical talent attracts a lot of media attention and causes a famous and very rich owner of an amusement park to take notice. The owner of the park V. A. Vandevere shows up to talk to Medici and break a deal. He wants Dumbo at his park and Medici will be his business partner. They work out conditions where the rest of the troupe have to be hired and the sound of a seemingly better life with more money for everyone pulls Medici in. Vandevere makes Dumbo the headlining act and he’s meant to perform besides Collete an acrobat from Paris. Everything seems bigger and grander working under Vandevere. But soon enough the cracks show and what Vandevere is truly about comes to light. Watch the full movie which is still in theatres as of the publication of this article to find out what exactly happens next.
The Live-action Dumbo remake was an alright movie overall. Nothing really was very amazing story or acting-wise but it was ok. The visually were engaging, colorful, and gritty all wrapped into one depending upon the scene. It was honestly surprisingly sad for a Disney film, not really what we are used to with their children-orientated films. The CGI for Dumbo and some of the other animals was really realistic but also vaguely yet loyalty cartooney in Dumbo’s case, and it’s not just the ears. It was interesting but not unpleasant that they changed the story majorly along with new characters, locations, situations, and antagonists. I do feel like it was made a bit too busy with all of these added elements and it was hard to get attached to the numerous characters. Even though some of them were major ones they still wouldn’t get a lot of screen time or even lines to say. Not being attached to characters in a generally sad movie is not ideal and can make a lot of the moments that are meant to be meaningful and emotional fall flat and feel off.
The story was easy enough to follow but the whole plot about the Circus troupe being absorbed into the amusement park and all the drama that came from that just didn’t really seem to fit in. It seemed sort of shoehorned in because they wanted more time in the movie or a more varied/different plot than the original because the original was rather simplistic and short. The whole later half of the movie just seemed out of place and like it didn’t really quite fit in. Although there are some things that are probably much better changed than in the original. Like the iconic dancing pink elephant bit from the original movie. In all, the Dumbo movie was alright and if you’re a fan of the original this could be worth watching to see the classic story revamped into a live-action version.
FROM HERE ON OUT SPOILER WARNING!
One thing I do specifically like much more about the remake than the original is the ending. In the original, it ended with Dumbo becoming a big hit and independently traveling around and doing shows with his mouse manager. But in the new one, it actually acknowledges that circus work isn’t where wild animals belong and Dumbo and his mom are freed into the wild. It’s just a much nicer and more realistic ending for the movie than the original. Although something regrettable is that the character I mentioned before the mouse isn’t in the remake. The dynamic of the mouse being Dumbo the elephant’s only friend who accepted him for him and didn’t shun him for his ears sends a nice message considering elephants are stereotypically terrified of mice. So it is sad that the new movie lost this important message the original had.
One scene that was also different in the two movies was the dancing pink elephant scene I mentioned before. In the new Dumbo, it is part of a circus act and the elephants are made out of bubbles and the scene overall was much shorter than the original. It was a nice nod to the original iconic scene and it was definitely more appropriate for a kid’s movie than the original scene. In the original, the elephants were either a dream or hallucination induced after Dumbo and the mouse got accidentally drunk off of champagne. So maybe dancing bubbles is a better thing to show children than what happened in the original. In conclusion, that’s my overall review of this film and my thoughts on it. If you enjoyed the original I’d suggest watching this one to see the new spin they put on it or if you’re a big fan of Disney. it’s definitely worth a watch depending upon your interests.