Dumbo is a Big No
You know I want to be positive about movies, but this is one trash fire I can't find a positive spin for.
Where do I begin? So much wrong.
The acting - this is a difficult one to discuss. There are three fantastic actors in this film who tried their hardest, but couldn't make the coal shine like a diamond.
Michael Keaton is one of my favorites, and it hurt to watch him try so hard with what little he was given. You could almost see it in his face as his over-the-top character played out on the screen. "I'm doing what I'm told." We know Michael. We know.
Danny DeVito, a long-time comedic king, seemed sad. He wandered through this movie like a man depressed. He'd signed the contract, and now he has to pay for his choices. His actions were half-hearted, and it broke mine.
Colin Farrell has had his rough patches. There are plenty of movies that have made me question his professional abilities, but none so much as Dumbo. He's a soldier who's experienced loss, a widower mourning his wife's death, and a father of two children he doesn't know. But none of this comes across. He ambles about, grumping and excusing until a poorly-accented French woman gets into his heart - goodbye dead wife.
Joe and Milly Farrier are two young children who lost their mother, yet the acting never signifies this. Joe is wooden, with lines repeated as though hand fed. He's adorable, but he can't carry the weight of his character.
Milly, meant to be the sad, heart-broken scientist in a world where women are for show doesn't come across as the strong message they intended. While Nico Parker has promising future talent, her character comes across as surly, sour, and anything but mourning. When she isn't sulking, she's blank, and I blame all of this on...
The directing - Tim Burton struggled. The editing was all over the place. Camera shots were out of focus or focused on the wrong characters. Scenery and CGI felt cartoony and silly. It wasn't right. This movie could have been heartwarming, but instead it left me cold.
The story - The greatest sin this movie committed was in the story.
Dumbo's origin back in the 1940s was rife with things that won't fly in today's world. From a child (elephant) getting drunk to racist references, Dumbo had issues from the start. One way to cut these issues out from the get go was to take away the animals anthropomorphism.
The animals don't talk - that's what the humans are for. Goodbye Timothy Q. Mouse, Dumbo's best friend. Hello sour and wooden children - two plot spewers to make sure the audience knows what's going on.
Despite no animal having a voice or a human-like characteristic, Dumbo is treated as though he understands every word of English. Dumbo is the only animal treated this way, spoken to as though he might answer back, and presented with problems to see his thoughts on the solution. The result is confusing and awkward.
Early on, the children - especially little girl Milly - apparently bond with baby Dumbo. They teach him to fly with a feather, and Milly shares the meaning of her necklace - the last gift her dead mother ever gave her. But the adults all around them treat them like they're stupid or in the way - even their own father.
Not to mention how they treat the poor baby elephant. I know animal cruelty was a part of history, but the way the HEROES of this story treated Dumbo made me want to climb into the scene and start breaking faces.
They endanger him, push him to do things he doesn't want to do, all while treating him as though he has a voice in the matter.
Dumbo (1941), everyone can agree, was sad. Even with a happy ending, it was hard to watch a tiny little cartoon elephant go through so much trauma. 2019 isn't any easier. A slightly more realistic (and insanely adorable) elephant watches with giant, tear-filled blue eyes as the world conspires against him. I'm not a fan of animal cruelty, but that's essentially all this movie is.
After plodding along for two hours, dragging the viewer with it, Dumbo reaches its climax. That super special necklace? The one Milly's mother gave her - the very LAST THING SHE GAVE HER? Milly throws it aside to prove some foggy point to the elephant, who, of course, understands every word.
Because who needs to keep a precious keepsake from their mother?
All in all, Dumbo has a *happy* ending, but it isn't earned. It's a slog-along trash fest of sadness, not a lick of hope in sight, that tosses a happy ending out despite there being very little logic to it.
I'm being generous.
It's for the cute CGI baby elephant.
Don't waste your money on Dumbo. Take your child to anything else. And if you enjoy it...I worry about how you treat your pets.
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