Tim Burton’s retelling of the 1941 Disney classic Dumbo, is officially out today, and last night I was lucky enough to get to check it out. So that I could give you my honest opinion along with everything you might have missed in this charming live-action Disney film.
To begin, for those who don’t know, Disney’s live-action film Dumbo, introduced Holt Farrier, a former circus star who finds his life turned upside down when he returns from the war. With circus owner Max Medici enlisting Holy to care for a newborn elephant with oversized ears, Dumbo.
However, when Holt’s young children discover that Dumbo can fly, word gets out, and entrepreneur VA Vandevere swoops in to make the elephant a start in their circus performance at their park, Dreamland.
What small details did you maybe miss?
Well, to begin, unlike the original, this live-action contains zero musical numbers or songs – however, one song on the soundtrack called Baby Mine is actually a cover of the iconic song Dumbo’s mother sings to him in the original animation when she’s locked up in solitary confinement and brandished the Mad Elephant. Now, there is also a nod to this in the live-action movie, with the sign Mad Elephant placed outside of the mother’s cage.
Another small detail in the film takes place during one of the large circus performances at Dreamland. As we know, in the original animated movie, at one point Dumbo accidentally gets drunk on champagne and begins to hallucinate pink dancing elephants.
In the live-action remake, performers use bubbles during one of the acts in order to create this exact same effect, minus the intoxication. Speaking of the performances, some of the choreography in the movie
The film itself is a clear apology letter from Tim Burton for the passionless work he had been dishing out of the last few years, after opting for larger budget films with big studios.
Now — though this is a Disney film, Burton did not shy away about his feelings towards money-grabbers, even including a theme park called Dreamland, which is eerily similar to Disneyland. Not only that, but the park also houses an attraction called The Wonder of Science, which seems to be a nod to the Wonder of Life center at Walt Disney World.
It’s almost comical that Burton would go to such lengths to include critiques of Disney when Dumbo was Walt Disney’s personal favorite film. I wonder if he would have liked this one.
In the film, we are introduced to circus ringleader Max Medici played by Danny DeVito, who takes on a role that I can’t help but feel is a reference to his character in Big Fish, another film directed by Tim Burton. Where, yet again, he plays a circus ringleader, however, he is also a werewolf. Sadly in Dumbo, we are not blessed with the same storyline. Perhaps Dumbo takes place before he’s bitten — perhaps this will all tie together one day. Probably not, but we can always dream. All in all, this film was aggressively charming, with more than a handful of homages to the original Disney classic. It also felt like Tim Burton’s redemption that he was so desperately seeking after an abysmal few years in the film industry. Are you guys excited for Dumbo? Did you catch any of these small details?