DUMBO (2019)

Dumbo (2019) movie poster
After losing an arm during the war, former horseback-riding sharpshooter Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) returns to the struggling traveling circus of Max Medici (Danny DeVito) hoping to revive his career. Max puts Holt, who must provide for his young son Joe (Finley Hobbins) and daughter Milly (Nico Parker) after the death of his wife, in charge of the elephants. Good fortune smiles on the circus when newly purchased pachyderm Mrs. Jumbo gives birth to Baby Jumbo. A laughingstock because of his big ears, the re-named Dumbo can fly - making him a star attraction. Drawing the attention of powerful businessman V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), Medici is conned into partnering with Vandevere in his giant entertainment venture called Dreamland and teaming Dumbo with aerial artist Colette Marchant (Eva Green). But dangerous secrets lurk in the shadows of this theme park.

Director Tim Burton puts his quirky touch on this live-action remake of Walt Disney's magnificent animated delight, resulting
in enjoyable family fare. The 1941 classic, which is better than this version, was barely over an hour. This retelling is almost double in length, making it necessary to take the spotlight off the flying miracle at times and focus on the people inhabiting this dazzling world. The cast is engaging, but not spectacular. The most interesting human character is Danny DeVito's gruff Max, unless you like watching Michael Keaton go way-over-the-top evil in his performance. The kids are cute in a Mary Poppins way, with Nico Parker getting the most notice as the precocious Milly, who yearns to become a scientist and be taken seriously. Colin Farrell and Eva Green try hard for chemistry, but come up short. Alan Arkin makes an all-too-brief appearance as a banker who backs Vandevere. With no talking animals, the real star is still the CG airborne elephant - able to elicit a tear or two. Matter of fact, the special effects in whole are captivating. The first half of the film stays fairly true to the original and the last half becomes a rescue mission to reunite the baby with his mother. Devoted fans of Walt's cartoon creation will find much to jog their memories. Pink elephants, a stork, a mouse, a recognizable train and more are creatively present. Danny Elfman's musical score manages to weave in most of those unforgettable songs. "Baby Mine" gets two vocal updates - stay through the closing credits to hear Arcade Fire's version. Tim Burton dabbles in some offbeat visuals, like a monkey (literally) on Max's back, but overall is pretty tame by his own standards. He's in his element with this tale of an outcast and even provides a few scares within the heartfelt story. There is a creepy side to Dreamland that's a bit nightmarish - a chilling delight. "Dumbo" takes center ring as a crowd-pleasing event. (3/5 CAMS)

Rated PG (for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language)
Running Time: 112 minutes

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