In Tim Burton’s version of Dumbo, the only thing that keeps the whole thing from really soaring is the gravity of the plot. Sure, Dumbo the baby elephant needs to overcome earthly woes in order to reach heavenly heights, but it doesn’t need to be so plainly pedestrian in order to get there.
Dumbo revolves around family, between mother and child, and widowed war wounded father and two precocious siblings. The human story remains earthbound, tethered to cliché villains and hero, only saved by the earnest reality of the kids love for Dumbo, a light comic performance from Danny de Vito as the circus owner and ringmaster, and a truly heavenly turn from Eva Green as the fallen angel acrobat who not only gets her wings back through good heart and good deeds but helps Dumbo soar to heavenly heights.
The animal story remains emotional, full of tears, smiles and soaring baby elephant delights. When Dumbo takes off, and it is not often enough, the film soars becoming the best thing Burton has done on screen in years.
There is three quarters greatness to one quarter mess in Dumbo. I have never cried and was delighted at a special effect in a very long time.
Also, I never been more frustrated with a movie that made me wish Burton would rush through the earthly drag of its plots. Give me nothing but Dumbo flying so I can be a delighted child again.
All photos courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.