By STACY BAUER & DAX HUGHES
Jimplecute Movie Reviewers
Directed by Tim Burton, it’s supposed to be the enchanting fairy tale one would expect from co-masters of “imagining” (that being Burton and Walt Disney’s mental legacy).
It’s a visually dazzling, turn of the last century period piece for lovers of historical fiction, emphasis on the word “fiction.” Disappointingly, everything seems to stay on a superficial level at best, and never fully takes flight in the way an audience expects from such a familiar classic.
Starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, Alan Arkin and Eva Green, with musical score by time-honored Danny Elfman, our troupe is well-seasoned for an entertaining show.
But that is about half-so. And the movie is twice as long as it needs to be. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former equestrian star and recent widower Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a baby elephant whose extremely large ears make him a joke in an already struggling circus act.
When the kids learn Dumbo can fly, the circus makes a profitable comeback, attracting a business mogul slash partner in V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton). Dumbo ends up in Vandevere’s Coney Island-esque Dreamland.
Peril and rescue ensue. Also present are themes of family, loyalty and perseverance, yet I found the script illustrating these forced and unnecessarily extended. Dumbo is short on heart and long on wide landscapes.
I’m clearly self-conscious regarding this remake being about profit, both in the story and the making of the actual movie. This is one of three remakes of an animated into live-action Disney movie, slated for this year alone (with even more on the horizon).
The grade for Dumbo on Rotten Tomatoes keeps dropping, one point at a time. It’s not a bad movie, but it is unexpectedly, disappointingly “average,” for a Disney/Burton collaboration. Let’s hope the future Disney do-overs seek redemption in both movie-making and storytelling.
Dumbo is rated PG and has a runtime of 112 minutes.
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