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Published On: Wed, Mar 27th, 2019

Disney’s live-action ‘Dumbo’ is cute, but the Tim Burton ruins a bad script with an even worse ending

As Disney continues to remake their animated classics into live-action adaptations, Dumbo seemed like a doomed project from the beginning. The lovable elephant with giant ears is certainly cute in this new incarnation, but director Tim Burton seemed interested in high-jacking that sweetness to transform the film into something dark, edgy and poisoned with an animal rights message.

As Dumbo begins, Casey Jr. is taking the struggling circus across the country in 1919 and Burton delivers a tapestry of rich colors, dynamic performers as the main characters are introduced. Colin Farrell plays Holt, an injured war veteran, returning to his two kids, who have also endured the loss of their mother, Holt’s wife, due to illness. Max Medici (Danny DeVito) runs the circus and tries to help Holt reintegrate into circus life, placing the man in charge of the elephants, of particular importance as Medici just purchase a pregnant pachyderm, Mrs. Jumbo.

The long-eared baby shocks everyone as Burton weaves in a ton of references to the original cartoon (the storks flying, the mouse donning a red hat) before giving the elephant his titular name: Dumbo.

This first part of the film adheres to the major plot points of the original: Mrs. Jumbo’s outburst of rage when she feels her baby is in danger, her resulting sale and removal from the circus, Dumbo being used as a clown and escaping a fire by flying publicly for the first time. Even pink elephants show up for an adorable homage to the classic film.

Then Michael Keaton’s V. A. Vandevere shows up.

Vandewere has built a Burton inspired Disneyland and wants to exploit Dumbo for financial gains as the elephant is partnered with his “not girlfriend” acrobat, played by Eva Green. This is when the film completely falls apart.

Burton can’t resist incorporating Beetlejuice and Nightmare Before Christmas themes into Dumbo, which loses all of its innocence and appeal. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger could be to blame (if so, shame on Disney) but the latter half of the film goes dark, brooding and very, very boring. Interesting characters introduced in the opening few scenes finally show up to be relevant, but it’s all a little too late.

Dumbo is also just a mess as a film. Actors use and lose their accents intermittently, Holt’s son has NOTHING to offer the story and, other than the flying scenes, NEVER engages the audience with anything remotely interesting to watch. Kids will love the elephant, who is increasingly more fun as the film progresses until the end…that terrible, horrible end.

Again, Kruger or Burton is to blame, but the “free the animal,” circuses are bad moment arrives and makes no sense as Mrs. Jumbo returns to Africa with her long-eared son. DeVito’s family circus may find life as the film comes to a close, but somehow the circus trained mother and her abnormal offspring will survive in the wild. Just a stupid, pandering idea that left a horrible taste in my mouth and removed me completely from the moviegoing experience.

Dumbo only has a week before Shazam! arrives, with Avengers: Endgame closing out next month, so the film will be a certain financial bomb. It’s a shame really, because about 40 minutes are so are a good remake of the original film.

Dumbo earns a very generous 2 stars out of 5 stars

The first part of the film would get 3 1/2 stars, with the last half earning maybe 1 star, nearly unwatchable before that horrible close.

About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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