DUMBO – A Review by John Strange
For those of us who fondly remember and love the first Dumbo (animated, 1941), don’t despair, this version is good! Brought to us from the wildly imaginative mind of Tim Burton, this new live-action re-telling of the tale of the big-eared circus elephant is different in many ways. The storyline for this film is more earthy and, in some cases, darker.
The characters in the circus are imaginative but when we see the truth behind their image, it takes away a portion of the magic we experienced when we saw similar acts as children. But then again, we are seeing these people not so much as actors/performers but as the people behind the make-up and costumes. I liked seeing the camaraderie and feelings of family they show each other.
The main characters in the story, which takes place mainly at the small Medici Brothers Circus, is set in 1919, following the end of World War I. Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) is met at the train station by his two children, Milly (Nico Parker) and her little brother, Joe (Finley Hobbins). Holt, once the star of the circus for his trick riding, is missing his left arm, lost in the war.
Milly, Joe, and Holt must find a way to stay with the circus which, thanks to the war, has been hit hard by the depressed economy of post-war America. Max Medici (Danny DeVito) was forced to sell the horses in Holt’s absence so the family reluctantly agree to be the keepers of the elephants.
This brings us to the star of the movie, the arrival of Dumbo, the child of the circus’ latest acquisition, Lady Jumbo, an Asian elephant. His arrival is both a blessing and a curse to the traveling circus. His huge ears scare everyone. They call him a freak. Little did they know his future will change their lives, for the better.
The story of the sweet young elephant who can fly will warm your heart but as in any story like this, there are evil persons. One is just flat nasty while the other reminded me of Bugs Bunny in that he was not truly bad, just totally amoral, doing and saying whatever he needs to get him what\ever he needs or wants.
The film has all of the earmarks of a film by Tim Burton, from the costuming to quirky little moments. Visually you will be swept into this world and brought along for a ride that will make you smile, make you angry, make you cry, and make you feel hope and happiness. This is an excellent film but please do not take your very young children to see it. I feel that children who are over 7 or 8 will be able to handle the darker aspects of the story as presented here but not the really young ones.
Directed by: Tim Burton
Cast: Lucy DeVito, Eva Green, Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, Joseph Gatt, Michael Keaton, Nico Parker, Alan Arkin, Sharon Rooney, Jo Osmond
MPAA Rating: PG (for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language)
Selig Rating: A
Runtime: 130 Min.
Movie Site: movies.disney.com/dumbo-2019
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.