Well, this was…interesting.
Since the first announcement of a live action Dumbo remake, classic animation fans have scowled. Tim Burton fans have rejoiced. And those who are fans of both have been scratching their heads, unsure what to think. I like to think I fall into that category. I am all about “keeping the classics pure,” but I do like a good twist and I do enjoy Tim Burton. I have to say, this remake is a good blend of both. Running just under two hours, I do not think that I would call this a movie for “all ages.” There were a few questionable scenes for younger children. I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler-free, but will hint at what to watch for regarding younger children towards the end of this review.
As a live action film, I do feel it loses a bit of the magic of the story. I wanted Casey Jr. to sing. I wanted the storks and elephants to talk to each other. I wanted the mouse to be Dumbo’s cheerleader. Instead, we were introduced to a new family for Dumbo, the Medici Bros. Circus family. These characters still give you those warm fuzzies, as they are good people. It’s just different. The original was about the animals and their take of circus life. This remake shows the flip side and what the people think. Remember those parts in the original Dumbo that made you mad? Well, those are still there. But being live action, these scenes are a bit more intense. Animated mean people just aren’t as anger-inducing. The live action scenes may make you want to reach out and slap someone.
Dumbo starts off closely, but not exactly, mirroring the original. The original Dumbo was set in the 1920s, with the remake also set in the same time. And as soon as you feel comfortable about this remake, the movie makes a very sharp turn into Tim Burton land. Here we stay for a bit, kind of confused. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, just very, very different and unfamiliar. I do feel that we were given a few “obligatory pc messages” that were unneeded. They just came across as forced. We do get a different ending for Dumbo with a great message of love and inclusion for all.
Is this movie safe for little ones? There were a few little ones in the screening with us. I did not hear any crying, or notice anyone leaving. There are intense scenes that could frighten very small children. Without spoiling this, there are mean people to watch for, fire, explosions, and a few scary animals. Basically, when we arrive to “Tim Burton land,” that is your cue to monitor how your little moviegoer is doing.
Overall, the movie was not what I expected. It was done very well, for a Tim Burton movie. Dumbo was adorable. And the takeaway message of inclusion and love for all is definitely worth it. Would I watch this film again? Probably not. But I do not regret seeing it.
But what did my 11 year old think of it?
“I thought it was interesting. I was happy with it, considering it was a Tim Burton movie. Dumbo was really cute. I wish the mice had a more important role in the movie.”
And there you have it. Are you going to see this movie? Let me know what you thought!