Landing in our theaters looking like a burnt meringue drawn with dirty pastels, Disney’s live-action Dumbo is a disappointment. A dour exercise, seemingly written by people who have never actually had a proper conversation with another human being before.
Based on Helen Aberson’s book, and the hour-long animated film from 1941, modern-day Dumbo is equal parts mean spirited and dull. Its thinly drawn characters waste the talents of Eva Green, Michael Keaton, and Collin Farrell, and the CGI rendering of the titular elephant isn’t all that impressive. The attempts to cover the effects of child abandonment feel like an afterthought and Disney’s set up of Keaton’s evil version of Walt Disney isn’t as clever as they clearly think it is.
Will kids enjoy it? Probably. Will adults? If you can derive some entertainment value out of laughing at a film rather than with the film, maybe. There was only one visual element I enjoyed (this film’s version of the elephant parade), and Nico Parker (Thandie Newton’s daughter) does okay in her debut as a young wannabe scientist. Other than that, the motivations and attitudes of the characters don’t make any sense, the plot is very predictable, and the dialogue, at times, is truly bizarre.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins
Directed by: Tim Burton
Screenplay by: Ehren Kruger
Rating: PG Running Time: 1 hr 52 min.