Emily Mody - Dumbo

Posted on Wednesday, April 03, 2019 at 02:00 PM


Review by Emily Mody x CalgaryMovies.com

Dumbo is a feature length narrative film directed by Tim Burton, as the story follows a rag tag group of circus performers and the animals that perform alongside them. When one of the elephants, Jumbo, gives birth to a baby elephant with oversized ears, the circus owner Max Medici (played by Danny DeVito) struggles to find a place for him. As a cruel joke, someone refers to the baby elephant as Dumbo and the name sticks.

In order to reconcile his new problem, Medici assigns Holt Farrier (played by Colin Farrell) and his two children, Milly Farrier (played by Nico Parker) and Joe Farrier (played by Finley Hobbins), as caretakers for Dumbo. When the children discover that Dumbo can fly, Medici’s run down show is given new life. Audience members flock from all over to see the miraculous baby including an entrepreneur, V.A. Vandevere (played by Michael Keaton), with plans to include Dumbo in his theme park known as DreamLand.

Dumbo is a remake of the original 1941 Disney animated film, although this version is technically live action, the film is still heavily animated. When a film uses a mixture of live action and animation in this way, it is often difficult for me to empathize with the characters. The characters are emotionally disconnected and focusing on the storyline is difficult because of how distracting the overlay of technology can be. Needless to say, it is very difficult to film a story in this way without losing the audience. Unfortunately, Dumbo fell victim to these issues and lost my interest quickly.

There was some potentially interesting discussion surrounding the male lead, Holt. He is a World War I veteran who returns home as an amputee. I assumed that the connection that Dumbo and Holt shared regarding disfigurement would be a natural speaking point and an interesting way that the characters could connect but is ultimately never touched on. Also, the discussion of the dangers of assuming that disfigurement would cause an individual to be less capable again, is all implied. Ultimately I felt this was a missed opportunity.

The similarities between this Dumbo and the original are fairly limited. The original is very short, only an hour long and demonstrates a dream-like quality that is made up of many small, memorable sequences. There is little emphasis on plot and story. In the new version, however, the story is the foundation for the action. The film has various references to classic Disney nostalgia while maintaining the “bigger” technological quality that this Marvel era seems to necessitate from big budget cinema.

Overall, this is definitely a family film but unfortunately I would recommend most people stick with the original. The original Dumbo has a nostalgic element that simply could not be captured within the new version. If you are a die hard Dumbo fan, this will not ruin the original but I think your time could be put to better use.

Dumbo is 112 minutes long. It is rated PG for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language. 

Calgary Showtimes:  Dumbo > | Dumbo 3D > | Dumbo: The IMAX 2D Experience > | Dumbo: An IMAX 3D Experience >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.