There is always that one person on an overseas trip that refuses to try new food out of fear. This person will probably order something safe like chocolate cake or ice cream which might end up being very nice, but definitely safe. Dumbo is sweet just like its main character, but it is also safe.
A revival of the 1941 character, Dumbo follows a baby elephant who is born with enormous, flappy ears, which is the reason why he is labelled as a freak in the circus where his mother gave birth to him. Disappointed owner of the circus Max (Danny DeVito) tasks returning war veteran Holt (Colin Farrell) and his two children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finely Hobbins) to help incorporate Dumbo into a circus act. But what none of them know is that Dumbo can fly. As the world found out about the flying elephant, so did rival circus manager, Vandemere (Michael Keane), who wanted to showcase Dumbo in his own bigger circus. A great step for Dumbo and the family, right?
The film’s main concept is just like that of the 1941 feature. However, in this version, director Tim Burton unleashes a sea of supporting characters around Dumbo. This led to very little characterisation for every other character except for Dumbo, even the supposedly main characters. The characters were somewhat likeable, but there was barely any context provided for them to develop.
The pace of the plot was very good; leaving no room for audiences to get bored, and moving just slowly enough for younger audiences to grasp what is happening. However, there is nothing at all unexpected from the plot. From the beginning, any adult and even some young children will be able to guess the details of what will happen until the end of the film.
That does not mean that the characters aren’t endearingly sweet. Dumbo’s animators excel at making him extremely cute with big eyes, mild facial expressions, and major likability.
As for the acting, Danny DeVito is as lively as ever, and the role fits him like a glove; however, his amazing talents almost vanish in the second half of the film due to the script’s overcrowding of supporting characters. Colin Farrell gave a much more underplayed performance, showing very few emotions and even fewer genuine reactions. Nico Parker had enough charisma to stand out as not just another child actor, while Finely Hobbins didn’t. Michael Keane’s performance was a bit (or a lot) over the top, partly because of the nature of the character he plays, but also due to his own choices as a performer.
If you choose to go and see Dumbo, what you really are going to see is the flying elephant we all know and love. But you will also get some distractions in the form of underdeveloped characters and a forgettable plot.