I don’t normally write reviews because I believe a film shouldn’t be judged by people who don’t know a good movie when they see one. Looking at you old men critics! I felt this needed to be addressed.
As a non-Tim Burton fan, I went into this new adaptation with fears I would break down in a flood of tears. By the time Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo’s mother gets taken away, I got close to the tears, but none came. Let’s look at the film. Please note this review contains spoilers for the film.
In The Beginning
The movie takes place in 1919 at the end of World War I. Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell), a widower and the father of two children returns home to the circus as an amputee. His boss and ringmaster, Max Medici (Danny DeVito) is desperate for cash to keep the circus moving. During Holt’s absence, he sells stuff belonging to the Farrier family. Because he sold Holt’s horses, Max puts him in charge of the elephants.
Upon meeting the newest addition to the animal part of the troupe, Mrs. Jumbo, Holt learns from Max the elephant is pregnant. A few days later, Mrs. Jumbo gives birth to a baby with excessively large ears. Max orders Holt to fix it before the next show. Despite Holt’s best efforts, the baby’s ears are revealed during his debut, which causes the crushing death of a violent member of the troupe. The mother elephant is sent away, much to the distress of her baby.
As the baby, now named Dumbo’s fame rises, it catches the attention of V.A. Vandevere, an ambitious and money-hungry businessman who wants his bohemian amusement park, Dreamland to profit from Dumbo. Holt’s daughter, Milly serves as Dumbo’s number one supporter, alongside her brother Joe. It takes awhile for her father to come onboard with Dumbo being able to fly.
Upon meeting Vandevere, the Medici circus troupe also meet his lady friend, Colette Marchant, a French Trapeze artist who comes to form a close bond with them. As Colette trains with the Farrier kids, Holt, and Dumbo she comes to be their ally and befriends them. She even becomes a mother figure to the kids who lost their prior to the film’s events during the Spanish Flu.
As time goes on, Milly discovers that Mrs. Jumbo is the elephant attraction of Dreamland. She and Holt to confront Vandevere, demanding Mrs. Jumbo be given back to the Medici Circus. The businessman refuses. Once the pair leaves, Vandevere doesn’t want to lose Dumbo so, he orders the mother be killed.
Meanwhile, the circus troupe is fired from Dreamland, but this doesn’t stop them from joining the Farriers and Colette in hatching a plan to get Jumbo and Dumbo to safety. What they don’t count on is Vandevere almost thwarting their plan to get the elephants out of Dreamland.
The troupe and Colette succeed with their plan and the elephants are sent to the jungle and reunited with a herd of wild elephants in the wild. It’s implied that Vandevere was arrested for arson.
Verdict On Dumbo
I was surprised at how much they changed from the original story to include more human characters. Because Timothy the mouse wasn’t a character in this version, the role is filled by Milly and Colette. However, the story remains the family-oriented story about how being different is a strength rather than a weakness. It also shows what happens when a family of misfits bet the odds and band together to fight against someone who threatens one of their own.
If I had to give a rating, I would give Tim Burton’s re-imagining of Dumbo 3 1/2 stars. Be sure to subscribe to the blog and click the push notification button to get notified when I post something new!
Dumbo is in cinemas NOW!