Surprise, surprise — Disney released another remake.
Tim Burton’s reimagining of the 1941 classic cartoon is a lot more PG than his regular fare, but not quite as light as the original. "Dumbo" is back with a new cast of human characters instead of his animal sidekicks, and a reworked storyline that stripped the original to its bones and rebuilt from bottom to bigtop.
Luckily, the most important bits remain the same. Namely, the title flying elephant. CGI Dumbo is possibly the cutest thing to ever be animated, and the style is absolutely beautiful and somehow doesn’t feel too out of place amongst a live-action cast. It’s clear the elephant steals every scene it’s in, but there’s really not much to steal.
The first half hour or so is spent simply introducing characters, feeling more like a circus themed roll call than a Disney movie. At that point, the two-hour run time felt like it stretched on forever, but then they brought out the elephant.
Mama Dumbo (Jumbo) quite literally kills a handler (dark, right?) and gets sent to elephant jail to atone for her sins, and the little guy with the big ears gets all teary. I may or may not have cried because of his sad little face, but that’s besides the point.
Some motherless children — are they ever not in Disney? — decide to try to teach Dumbo to fly, a sneeze sends him airborne, and circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) decides to try to use him to save his circus. Cuteness ensues.
Unfortunately, the cuteness and simplicity was bogged down by a bunch of unnecessary villains and plotlines.
The reworking of the plot washes away what the original “Dumbo” was meant to be. It was a simple, heartwarming film with a message about overcoming adversity produced quickly, animated colorfully and received with open arms.
Now, the plot features a string of villains trying to use Dumbo to get their next paycheck. Disney is trying to make the film into something with more of a lesson than something to sit down and stare at the colors, and, at least in my opinion, that isn’t always necessary. The 1941 “Dumbo” is great because it’s light. It’s an hour of the impossible, animated with a bunch of colors and fun.
The only thing that I’m glad Disney decided to leave behind was the racial stereotypes all over the first film, but unfortunately that’s a part of almost every classic cartoon.
Some things are great in their simplicity. The original “Dumbo” made waves for a reason. The remake just isn’t doing that. It’s lost both the nostalgia and original lightheartedness.
Basically, it was just a little too much.
The new “Dumbo” is definitely cute and enjoyable, but it could be so much more fun instead of turning into a two-hour movie with an actual plot. Normally, that’s not something I would argue against, but come on. It’s a flying elephant.