I admit it, I have not seen Disney’s classic animation Dumbo. I am familiar with the storyline, as well as key scenes throughout the movie. So, seeing Disney’s live-action version, directed by Tim Burton, is essentially my first time seeing the film. Dumbo is the story of a traveling circus and a unique elephant with larger than life-sized ears. He becomes a star attraction and also gains the attention of people who don’t have the best of intentions for young Dumbo.
The film stars Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, and Colin Farrell as well as newcomers Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins. Danny Devito steals the show as ringmaster Max of the Medici Bros circus. Colin Farrell plays Holt Farrier, father to Milly and Joe who returns from war missing an arm and mourning the loss of his wife. The circus has seen tough times, and he learns that he’s been demoted from the star of the show as a horse rider to elephant wrangler. His children are missing their mother, and their father seems inept in child rearing. That’s when Dumbo arrives, and the charming elephant appears to change the lives of everyone he meets.
In true Tim Burton fashion, the movie is quirky, in some ways dark and features characters who are trying to fit in. We see Timmy, the mouse who doesn’t have a significant role in the film. None of the animals talk which I’m fine with. My daughter’s favorite scene is the pink elephant dream sequence. It was mesmerizing, and we bobbed our heads along with Dumbo who is captivated by bubbles and pink elephants parading overhead. My favorite scene is when Dumbo first takes flight within the circus tent. What a sight and it gave me chills! It reminded me of milestones that my daughter made as a child, her first steps and the first time she performed in front of an audience in kindergarten. It’s a proud moment.
I’ve seen the film twice, and I personally loved it! It’s cheesy, entertaining and visually stunning. My daughter, who is 11, also enjoyed the movie. Dumbo does have its imperfections- some of the acting felt a little forced, and I wished we saw more of the “freak show” acts. There wasn’t tremendous chemistry between Milly (Nico Parker) and Dumbo. This is Parker’s first acting role, but she did seem a little stiff and unemotional. But Dumbo is absolutely adorable. He’s silly, eye/catching and definitely Burtonesque-a bit dark with sad eyes. Michael Keaton was excellent as the villain. He just oozes charisma and is always a pleasure to watch on screen. Aside from the star-studded cast and cute baby elephant, a primary reason I loved the movie is its final message when Ringmaster announces that all wild animals should be free. I was never a fan of the circus and the use of elephants. It’s an embarrassment to these magnetic animals. I applaud Disney for telling the audience that a Circus can be entertaining without animals and showing us that wild animals flourish in their natural habitats.
Dumbo soars into theaters March 29!