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Dumbo - 2019

Dumbo - 2019

Director(s): Tim Burton

Writer(s): Ehren Kruger (screenplay) Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl (novel)

Cinematography by: Ben Davis

Editor(s): Chris Lebenzon

Cast: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins


Disney is remaking everything, and just this year we have four "live action" (Lion King?) films of their classics coming out in theaters. Out of the four coming out, Dumbo was the one that intrigued me the most - since I had no connection to the original outside of a few highlights and moments. Add that to the fact that I am always waiting for a Tim Burton return to form project, and will not stop waiting for one since Dumbo was not the one. Let's talk about it.

The story follows Holt Farrier (Farrell) and his two kids, Milly and Joe (Parker and Finley). They are part of the Medici Brothers' traveling circus lead by Max Medici (DeVito). The circus has seen better days, and it is now trying to make a return to form on the back of the soon to be born baby elephant. When baby Dumbo finally arrives and takes flight with his oversized ears, it draws the attention of a big circus and their sinister plans. Dumbo circa 1941 has a runtime of barely an hour, versus this 2019 version that almost hits two hours, making this version feel heavy and drawn out and a bit boring if I am honest. We get the highlights of the original, Dumbo's original take-off and the pink elephants, along with the emotional gut-punch of his mother being taken away, but it all fell flat, and I think it is in part due to the realism of the special effects and the gloomy and grey color palette of the world.


I did not feel invited to a world of wonder, in a movie about a flying elephant, it all feels one note. As if Burton sat down at the piano and held his finger on the "eh" note for almost two hours. No magic, no excitement - even when the little kids see him fly for the first time, they barely crack a smile. The third act finally is messy and makes you scratch your head as to how the logistics work within this generic action climax. I did like the inclusion and recognition of the animal cruelty and the need to stop forcing animals to perform, but the most visually exciting and compelling sequences of the entire film came at the last five minutes, making it too little too late.

Dumbo is not a bad movie, and the animation of baby Dumbo is done beautifully, as he is cute and full of emotions making it easy for the audience to be invested in him. But it is bloated, slow and a bit repetitive, making it hard for me to recommend you going out to the theaters for it. However, I do think some kids will enjoy it, and it will not make for a bad viewing at home when you can check your phone during the dull moments of the runtime. Wait for it to hit Disney +.


Dumbo is a Streamer!

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