For a late mother’s day outing, my family went to see this year’s Dumbo reboot. Dumbo was (and is) my favourite Disney movie as a youngster, but when it comes to live action Disney reboots I’ve not been overly enthusiastic. Beauty and the Beast was alright and I really wasn’t fond of the live action Jungle Book, but I was interested in Dumbo.
At the end of the day, Dumbo and all the other live action Disney reboots are family movies, geared primarily towards kids, though they of course service the nostalgic twenty-something year olds who loved this movies years ago. So, as a family movie, Dumbo was a success. It was sweet, heart-warming, was all about smart and plucky kids saving a sweet, young, flying elephant. There were exciting points and beautiful things to look at, and I can’t imagine kids not liking it.
As a twenty-two year old watching this movie, I thought it was…awrite. I was really happy to hear them sing Baby Mine near the start – it wasn’t inserted into the movie so gracefully but it still got nostalgia points from me. I was also happy to see the Pink Elephants scene, though Dumbo wasn’t off his nut to see it, so some of the appeal was lost.
There was a massive ensemble of circus performers whose characters and abilities were really underdeveloped. They were background characters, yeah, but there were points where I felt that the audience was meant to know and feel more about them than we really could as viewers. We just hadn’t been given enough to really care.
At two separate points, there was what I can only call desperate cash grabs by the movie in hopes of selling merch. While entering the big circus in the second half of the movie, there was a massive stall selling Dumbo dolls – the Dumbo dolls you can buy in real life from Disney stores. The stall in the movie was absolutely crawling with kids desperate to bring home a Dumbo of their own, and in the audience watching Dumbo fly we could see a lot of kids affectionately holding onto these Dumbo dolls. Entering the circus once again in a later scene, I’m pretty sure we saw a repeat of the exact same footage of the kids at the stall going for toys. I thought that was a bit shit, like as if Disney actually has to play an advertisement for their toys in their movies?
Overall, Dumbo was not too terrible. Fun for the family and Danny DeVito was, as always, darn right amazing and a pleasure to watch. The main performances were those of the two child actors which were pretty stiff and bad, but that’s kind of average for child performances. They’re either not bad or shocking, though there are a few exceptions where we see actually good child actors. As a kids movie, Dumbo was nice but could have left out the cash grabbing (though some would argue that all of these reboots are cash grabs). At the end of the day, if I was going to watch a Dumbo movie, I’d probably pick the original animated version from 1941.