As a kid, I think I saw Dumbo, but it’s been so many years I couldn’t say for sure. I at least knew or remembered that the elephant could fly due to its big ears. While Disney and other Hollywood studios wait too soon to remake things, Dumbo was made in 1941, so I suppose almost eighty years was enough time to wait before making a remake. Disney has done well with many of their live-action remakes, but what about Dumbo?
The movie is set in 1919, and the former horse cowboy Holt Farrier returns to American soil from World War I to his children, but with the loss of his arm. His old pal Max Medici gives him a job in his circus, to which Holt and his children Milly and Joe look mainly after the elephants. The new Asian elephant gives birth to a baby.
And everyone is shocked to see it born with “hideous” ears that are very big and floppy. Max is hit with some bad troubles and he has to get rid of the baby’s mother. The baby (later named Dumbo), they learn can eventually fly with his big ears. He becomes a big act in the circus after some hiccups, and everything seems good to have his mother return to him.
But before that happens, a bigwig named V. A. Vandevere comes to see this famous Dumbo for himself. He owns an amusement park of sorts (less rides, more circus-like shows) and he really is there to acquire Dumbo for himself. Instead of merely taking Dumbo off the circus’ hands, he tricks Max and everyone else into thinking they’re getting “promoted” to bigger and better things. They all mostly agree, but when will this deal go south?
Overall this Dumbo remake was a terrible idea on Disney’s part. Tim Burton has made a bunch of great films, and I was happy to see Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito reunite with him to make a new project. But this has none of the Tim Burton magic (I don’t know why he keeps doing this Disney stuff) but instead they just ruin the Dumbo story. The movie is way too long (almost two hours) and they focus more on the humans than the elephant whom is the reason everyone came to watch the movie. While the movie is visually appealing (lots of great uses of color) and Dumbo is adorable, it’s a tough movie to love.