Dumbo (2019)

Have you ever seen an elephant fly? Oh, you have? Well, then, I guess… um… this is awkward. New question: Have you ever seen an elephant fly through a world imagined by Tim Burton? No? Great. Then drop some acid and come with me on a world of pure confusion.

So, Dumbo. It’s not bad. It’s kind of good sometimes. Maybe. I think. It’s really weird — like Tim Burton weird. At the very least, I can say that Dumbo himself is the star of the show. Given that he’s a CG elephant with giant ears, I’d say that’s at least something of an accomplishment. Or an admonition against all of the actors, depending on how you look at. But I’m going to choose to believe that Dumbo taking center stage (no pun intended) was the intention all along.

This is a tale of two movies. One is a relatively faithful remake of the old Dumbo cartoon. What you might not remember from your childhood, however, is that the Dumbo cartoon barely constituted a movie, and thus, the live-action version has covered all of that ground in a span of about thirty minutes. But movies can’t be thirty minutes, so they conjured up what I like to think of as Dumbo 2: Dumbo Goes to New York!

And then wild craziness ensues. Michael Keaton shows up doing his best Johnny Depp impression. Colin Farrell pretends that he can manage a Kentucky accent (seriously, why couldn’t he just be Irish?). Danny DeVito delivers his very best Danny DeVito impression. Two kids do a half-decent job showing you that adults are horrible, horrible things and that no one should EVER become one. And Eva Green’s there, too. She’s pretty and seems the most comfortable in all of this inanity.

But the film is stunning. It’s a spectacle, as you would expect from Tim Burton and the infinite wallet of Disney. The CG is on point, the set design is unique and breathtaking, and when everything goes horribly awry, it becomes the most beautiful Tim Burton-esque landscape of all.

I am so conflicted on this movie. I don’t think it’s actually good, but I think it is fun. I walked away smiling, having had a genuinely good time. So maybe that makes the movie good? I’m not really sure, but I think kids’ll love it and parents will be able to tolerate it, so maybe go watch it?

Rating: 3.5 stars
Should you watch it? Umm… no… yes? Maybe…
Should you take your kids? Certainly — it’s no scarier than the original Dumbo
What you should watch first: You can watch the original cartoon, but doing so will make it more obvious that it didn’t leave much to mine into a full-length feature film

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