The children’s classic “Dumbo” has flown onto the big screen, but don’t expect it to soar. The old tale may steal the hearts of children, but it is likely to leave parents a little sleepy.
A young elephant whose oversized ears enable him to fly helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.
The movie takes place in the early 1900’s and the costume design is a favorite. The deep, rich colors and vintage designs help bring the characters to life. Each costume has a modern touch added.
Max Medici (Danny DeVito) is the circus’ ringmaster. His character is fun and loving, yet a little money hungry, which makes sense because the business is not making much money. With the purchase of a pregnant elephant, Medici hopes to draw business in with a baby elephant.
The baby elephant with blue eyes and enormous ears is born, but he is an instant target for ridicule. When he is left motherless, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) care for Dumbo. They lost their mother to influenza and their father, Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell), returns from war a hero without one of his arms. Wounded and without horses for his act, Farrier becomes the caretaker and trainer of the elephant.
The entire movie was filmed indoors on sets and stages. Dumbo is computer animated to look real, yet keep those cartoonish features. The movie did a wonderful job of blending the animated with the live-action.
With a white feather and some encouragement the children train Dumbo to fly with those oversized ears. The amazing flying elephant draws the attention of V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who has dark secrets under the guise of a giving man. He partners with Medici to bring Dumbo to his amusement park. So, the circus closes and Dumbo becomes an act for Vandevere.
DeVito and Parker do an amazing job of making their characters believable. While children will like this movie, adults might feel it drags on. The acting from the rest of the cast is mediocre and falls flat in a lot of areas.
The most memorable parts of the original Dumbo found their ways into the live-action film, but in an updated way. For example, the clowns were fun and friendly opposed to negative clowns.
If you’re feeling nostalgic, go see this with your kids. I believe they did an okay job of bringing back Dumbo’s tale when children of this generation may have never seen or heard of Dumbo. If you’re kid-less skip the theater and rent it when it’s released.