Disney’s Dumbo Soars Into Your Hearts!

Hey All!

Recently Disney has been revisiting its animated classics and giving them the live action treatment. In some cases, the remake follows the original pretty closely, like 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. In other cases, there is enough deviation to really tell a new story while maintaining the spirit of the original, like 2015’s Cinderella. Sometimes it gets tricky when many of the main characters are animals, like 2016’s The Jungle Book, but Dumbo is different. Unlike The Jungle Book, the main star is not a real person but rather a flying elephant brought to screen and made impossibly adorable through the same effects which brought the animal characters in The Jungle Book to life. And, because its Tim Burton, a story has been crafted which tells this timeless classic with new eyes while still maintaining the spirit of the original.

Instead of having talking animals, the story is told through the eyes of Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell; In Bruges, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and his two children Milly and Joe (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins both sharing their feature film debut) from the circus in which Dumbo was born. Since there are no talking animals in this more “realistic” take, these human characters take the place of Timothy Mouse and, because this is Disney and Tim Burton, they have their own tragic backstory. The owner and ringmaster of the aforementioned circus is Max Medici (Danny Devito; Big Fish, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia), who is a good guy that cares for the members of his circus but still has to run his business.

Tim Burton fills this circus, as he has done in his past films, with performers who, while odd, are fully realized and developed characters with tragic backstories. And as a circus has been used to show before, these tragedies for these unique individuals are what bind them together as a family. It makes sense that this is the setting in which a baby elephant with giant ears could feel at home. Through the eyes of these characters who are also outsiders, this oddly born elephant is seen as just the adorable baby he is and is given unquestionable love and a home. Attempting to rip the adorable baby Dumbo from his home is a brand-new character to the story; the wealthy and driven entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton; Batman, Spiderman Homecoming) who plans to buy the circus and Dumbo for his own state of the art amusement park. Vandevere represents not only the modern age but the modern businessman who excitedly would trade morals for money by means of exploitation.

The original 1941 film has many memorable moments which would seem impossible to recreate due this being a live action interpretation. Thanks to the creative filmmakers, these scenes, like the story, are displayed with fresh eyes. One of my favorite scenes was the musical number “Pink Elephants on Parade,” in which Dumbo and Timothy Mouse accidentally get drunk and hallucinate their burp bubbles shaping into pink elephants that sing and dance. In this live action interpretation, the bubbles and song are created as an opening act to bring in Dumbo. And of course, the beautiful “Baby Mine” in which baby Dumbo visits his mother in her shackles (which still makes me cry as an adult), gets an interpretation here in which a singer in the circus troop performs “Baby Mine” as our new little Dumbo goes to visit his mom. It’s almost the exact same scene with a realistic twist that keeps the tragedy.

While I still hold the original animated classic very close to my heart, I know many children today will definitely enjoy this new live action version but still be able to get the same emotional responses that I got from the 1941 version. Fortunately, this interpretation also manages to be just different enough to become part of the modern day Disney Pantheon. This new Dumbo will surely soar into your heart the same way the original did!

Visit the official DUMBO website here: https://disney.com/dumbo

DUMBO is in theatres everywhere now! Run out and see it! Don’t forget your tissues!