Continuing its live-action trend, Disney released Dumbo on March 27th, 2019 and it might just be the most underwhelming Disney movie release of the year.
With everyone currently hyped about Toy Story 4, the Lion King live action remake, and, of course, Avengers Endgame, there just wasn’t much room to hype over and take interest in Dumbo. I’d say that’s definitely been seen in the media coverage and other reviews posted since the movie premiered. It definitely did not overwhelm me.
The original, animated Dumbo released in 1941 was never a favorite of mine either, to be fair. I thought it was cute and liked it as a kid, but I’ve never been Dumbo-obsessed and it’s never mad a ‘top’ list of favorites that Disney has made. It was cute with the talking – and singing – animals and had a decent story then. All of that was lost in the 2019 remake.
No animal in the movie talks and, aside from Dumbo and his mother, other animals are reduced to a mere cameo, fan-service appearance. The mice, who played a significant role in the original, were seen in two scenes (beginning and end) and played no role in the plot whatsoever. Other animals were background effects for the circus or to complete a scene.
The focus was definitely on the human actors, which is an okay choice if done right. I didn’t feel a connection to the characters, however, and that’s due to the rushed character development. Holt (Colin Farrell) played a leading role as a widower father and returning war veteran – there’s lots of potential there for great story telling and Disney could tell it, but they rushed it and threw us little nuggets of story rather than building him up as a person. Holt’s kids, Milly and Joe, were treated the same way. Milly was portrayed as a daughter who wanted to explore science and an education over being in the circus, and that was again an area that could have been explored more.
If the idea was to focus on human characters, they could have done it better. They took the focus off the title character – Dumbo – and didn’t put in an equally compelling focus.
The member of the cast that saved the movie, however, was definitely Danny DeVito who played Medici – the head/owner of the circus company Dumbo started in. DeVito not only provided the star power for the film, but he provided the humor this otherwise dark movie desperately needed.
As was widely discussed prior to its release, this Dumbo remake was led by Tim Burton and his presence was felt throughout the plot. It was dark – one sad moment after another – and honestly kind of depressing. The lead characters would overcome one struggle just to land immediately into another – there was no high moments to enjoy. A good roller coaster needs to take you up a steep hill, peak, and then come crashing down. If you stay on the ground the whole time, it’s not much of a thrill.
I don’t regret seeing the movie, despite its disappointing nature. In reality, I had low expectations going into the movie so I wasn’t too disappointed by how it turned out. Like I said, I’m not a Dumbo fan in general. I saw the movie because Disney made it (though it definitely doesn’t come off as your typical Disney movie).
If you loved the original or like the Dumbo story a lot, you’ll probably like the movie a lot more than I did. They did change some plot points – necessary changes because they took away nearly all animals and all animal talking/singing points. The singing, which I’ve now mentioned a couple times, is what makes Disney movies classic and so enjoyable for me. I definitely missed not having a soundtrack with this movie.
For me, Dumbo happened. It was a thing. I’m now turning my attention to all Marvel for the next month. Dumbo was a nice distraction from Thanos-snap-mania I suppose.
Image Source: thisisinsider.com