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Dumbo (2019, live version)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Morgotha, Apr 15, 2019 at 2:02 PM.

  1. Morgotha

    Morgotha Well-Known Member

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    So, Dumbo. Lots of spoilers here, so back out now if you haven't seen it, but intend to.

    I guess the main thing is, the movie's not really about Dumbo, the flying elephant, and if you are expecting Dumbo to be the focus of the movie, then this movie is not for you.. OTOH, if what you're interested in is seeing the creation of an alternative "woke" version of the post-WW1 era, you've come to the right place.

    The movie starts out with a couple of children running to the train station as their father is coming home from the war. We then see he has lost an arm, and who now won't be able to be a rodeo rider for the circus and is later given the job of cleaning up after the elephants. His kids find out about Dumbo's ability to fly, so he somehow ties in to that. Of course, we also find out that the Ringmaster has already sold all his horses to pay the bills, so even if he HAD both his arms he wouldn't be riding for the circus anyway. So what was the point of him losing an arm? To make an anti-war statement? To show him being "handicapable"? To show the circus looks after its own? There obviously was a reason, but it didn't seem to have anything to do with Dumbo.

    As a side note of what I'd say is poor casting, they cast a light skinned black girl as the man's daughter, when they showed a picture of the man and his wife both being apparently white. What's the point of that? It didn't make any sense visually, and if you wanted to cast a black girl as his daughter, and you wanted the actor to be white, and since his wife was dead and the only reference to her was this picture, why not have his wife be a black woman? Wouldn't that have made more sense? Anyway, it would more obviously fit with the "woke" nature of a 1919 interracial couple, and would be a bit more brave about it.

    Next, the circus itself. This is the 1920, so you'd expect there to be, you know, circus acts. A bunch of trained animals, "freaks", stuff like that. Unfortunately, this is 2019, and you can't show animal acts without PETA going berserk, and you can't show "freaks" without offending someone, so... you pretty much are left with showing nothing. Not particularly good, and not a circus most people would pay money to see, which, come to think about it, is a pretty good reason for them to be going broke.

    The circus *did* keep one employee though, a guy who wanted to senselessly and repeatedly abuse the elephants. WHY they kept him was a mystery, as he didn't seem to do anything BUT abuse the animals. I know if I had to cut back on staff, or even if I didn't, he'd have been the first one to go, but Danny deVito apparently thought having a resident animal abuser around was a necessity. He never was fired, btw, but died when a tent pole fell on him after, once again, abusing the elephants. If removing him via mortal accident seems a cheesy way out to you, it did to me, too. In hindsight, though, the director probably thought that firing someone for bad behavior wasn't acceptable in a "woke" world where viewers might believe one should pay people for not working, and having an accidental death was an easier way to part company with him.

    Hee hee, this is just kind of a bad scene on Dumbo's birth, but not to detract from the movie as a whole. Mama Jumbo is in the train, and when the animal abuser kicks her out, newly-born baby Dumbo is under some hay and can't be seen. O.k., a bit of suspense, which is both fine and expected. But then, Dumbo goes out of the train and down the ramp and he's STILL completely covered with hay! C'mon, already. They took what should have been a cute entrance scene and made it ponderous.

    The kids get Dumbo to fly, and tell their dad. He says something like, "don't bother me", and the kids walk away. Now.... as a kid you've just seen *an elephant fly*! You aren't going to say something like "DAD, YOU AREN'T LISTENING!!!! DUMBO IS FLYING!!!!!" - I think most kids would. Not only was dad unimpressed, but so was the ringmaster who had previously spent most of his screen time talking about how they could really, really, really, really use an act to get them out of the red. "Oh, a flying elephant? Meh".

    Dumbo flies, very briefly. Looks neat.

    Michael Keaton shows up, and judging by his Beetlejuice performance should have been phenomenal in the role of a circus master. He must have been told to mediocre it up a bit, because he always seemed restrained. That was a big bummer for me. I did like his theme park though, and if he could create something like that in 1919 he *deserved* to be a rich man! Another LOL on the "woke" side of things, when the kids were in the "futureland" part of the theme park they showed a bunch of robots tending a man in a dress and a woman in a suit, to which I thought "oy". He also had a scene of bubbles that the circus performers made, and they turned in to gigantic elephants and danced around, etc. That would be a show in itself. Anyone who could create something like that out of bubbles wouldn't need a flying elephant.

    The next bit really left me scratching my head. Mama Jumbo also got picked up by Keaton's circus, and when Dumbo finds out, Keaton decides to shoot Mama Jumbo so Dumbo won't be distracted. WHAT??? How could anyone think that makes sense? He just *bought* mama Jumbo, why not leave the two together at night and see how that works out? Maybe you could have two successful acts. What if Dumbo gets clinically depressed from the absence of his mother and won't fly? Then you'd have NO act at all. It really was pretty bad. It gave the stock, bald, elephant skin boot wearing villain something to do, I suppose.

    Then the elephants are sent free and are sent back to Africa. The elephants there seem to be accepting of a flying elephant joining their herd, which is good. They seemed to be unattended on the ship, as the whole cast stayed behind, which seemed a bit odd, and thankfully no one along the way decided that a flying elephant would work out well in THEIR circus instead of setting them free.

    Finally, we see the new and improved deVito circus, that goes out of its way to say they don't have any animal acts (since that was cared about so deeply in 1919). Well... except for the horses that the one-armed cowboy rode, and the fish in the mermaid tank, and the trained rats and the monkey, no animals were used at all.

    What's a summary of this movie? "Dreary" would be the word I'd use to describe it best. Not much happiness, just people toiling along without much hope of betterment. *That* might have been an accurate portrayal of 1919 circus life, but it's hardly what I'd expect to come away with in a movie about a flying elephant.
     
    #1 Morgotha, Apr 15, 2019 at 2:02 PM
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019 at 3:17 PM

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