Tuesday, April 2, 2019

"Dumbo" Review

 Disney's Dumbo!      
It's a live action remake of the classic Disney animated film, starring Colin Farrell,  Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Nico Parker, and Finley Hobbins. 

It's a different take on the story.                  
Colin Farrell plays Holt, a man who comes back from the war with only one arm.  He's the father of 2 kids, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), and his wife died of influenza while he was gone.  He and his wife, Annie, had been the stars of the circus, doing tricks with horses.  Now his wife is gone, he has only one arm, and the owner of the circus, Max Midici (Danny DeVito), has sold the horses to help make ends meet.  Holt needs a job, so Max lets hm be an elephant wrangler.    

The elephant story is familiar: Mrs. Jumbo gives birth to Dumbo.  He has really big ears.  
Some people make fun of him, so his mom defends him and it causes problems with the circus.  
She gets sent away, Dumbo misses her.  He flies with the "help" of a feather.  

What is different is that no animals talk in this one.  The story is told from the human side, not the animal side.  Milly and Joe spend time with Dumbo and discover the flying thing by accident.  They "train" him to do it right so he can help the circus get more money and they can buy Mrs. Jumbo back.  I think it's supposed to be a bonding thing for them since they miss their mom, too.  I'm guessing they miss their mom.  They don't really show or say much about it.  Holt mentions that she knew how to talk to them, and he doesn't, but that's most of it.  I would like to have felt a deeper loss there - as one would generally find in the loss of a wife and mother.      I think they try, it just wasn't successful, in my opinion.

I'm not a big fan of the animated movie.  It's too sad.  Heartbreaking.  I've only seen it a few times, but I did watch it a few years ago to make sure I really didn't care for it.  And I didn't.  I had hopes for this movie that it would change my mind about the story.  This one isn't nearly as sad as the animated one.  But there isn't much emotion in it at all.  Holt lost a lot while he was away - his wife, his arm and his job.  But I never felt much from him.  The sorrow from Michael in Mary Poppins was palpable, Holt's sorrow was not. 

I loved the look of this movie.  The Casey Jr. train was very cool!  It felt like an antique toy that you could play with.  The beginning of the movie was stunning.  I loved the look of the train and the old fashioned map visuals they used to show the movement of it.  

When Dumbo flies he becomes a phenomenon!  That's when we meet Michael Keaton, wealthy theme park owner, V.A. Vandevere, a blustery bully who always gets his way.  His park, Dreamland, reminded me a bit of the look of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio.  Bright and colorful - it was visually very cool to look at.  He wants to make Dumbo the flying elephant his lead act.  He's a decent bad guy - all bluster, not much substance.  His henchman Neils Skellig (Jospeh Gatt) was the scariest thing in the movie for me.  And he wasn't terribly scary.  He felt like an AI or robot, or a crazy Bond villain.  The only time I felt real peril was in a scene with him.  I won't give details!  I don't want to spoil things.

Eva Green plays Colette Marchant, a "flyer" in the show at Dreamland.  She was wonderful!  
She and Danny DeVito were the standouts in this cast.  They showed the most emotion.  
Can you tell emotion means something to me?  :)

There were a few Easter eggs from the original movie.  When we first see the Casey Jr. train, the background music is the Casey Jr. song we all know and love.  Danny DeVito also sings it to himself as he's walking near the train. 
When introducing Dumbo's act the announcer uses a variation of "You've seen a horse fly.  You've seen a dragon fly.  You've even seen a house fly......"  That was awesome!

One major missed opportunity for me was when Miss Atlantis (Sharon Rooney) sang "Baby Mine".  
The moving, sad, song from the animated movie.  It could have been a wonderful, 
emotional scene.  But it fell completely flat.  That was a chance to tug at my heartstrings, but it didn't.

But there were a few parts that were worth the price of admission!
  • Seeing Dumbo fly the first time in the circus tent was nothing short of awesome!
  • Michael Buffer announcing the flying elephant act was very cool!  He's the "Let's get ready to rumble!" guy from boxing and wrestling.  That was a fabulous idea to use him!
  • Dumbo was absolutely adorable!  His cute, droopy eyes and sweet curiosity were a treasure!
  • And there were some great lines:  "Is that a monkey in your desk?"  "Only for emergencies."   "Right wing?"  "Check."  "Left Wing?"  "Check."  

On a scale from 1-10 I'd give Dumbo a 5.5
I didn't love it, but I'm glad I saw it.  It had a few great moments.  
Just not enough great moments to get a higher rating.  
More character work on everyone (except Max and Colette) was needed.

Chris and I did a review on the podcast (Our Disney Adventures Podcast) if you want to hear more - and hear his opinions, too.  Click here for the podcast.

Where are all the people?
We ended up with about 30 people in the show!

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