Disney's Live Action Dumbo Remake Movie Review by Mouse Pals

MOVIE REVIEW: Dumbo (2019 Live Action Version)

If you can’t already tell, we love Disney movies! We really like a lot of the original classics, and we also enjoy a lot of the new movies, sequels, and remakes that Disney has been making in the past several years.
Disney's Live Action Dumbo Remake Movie Review by Mouse PalsYesterday we got to see another one of Disney’s classic remakes, Dumbo. We headed to the theater to see the new live action version of this famous classic and we really weren’t sure what to expect. While I (Em) like the original animated movie fine, it’s definitely not a favorite Disney movie for either myself or mom. There’s a lot of elements of the original that I do enjoy, and I can certainly appreciate that it’s a classic, but overall I’ve always thought it to be rather sad and a pretty disjointed story-wise. That being said, I have always liked the character of Dumbo and how they portrayed his relationship with his mother, Mrs. Jumbo, so I was really hoping that the new live action version would do well with these two elements in particular. 
When I heard Tim Burton would be directing, I was pretty skeptical at first, mainly because I was concerned that the entire movie would be very dark and possibly creepy (it is clowns in a Burton movie, after all – to be honest, it seemed to me like a recipe for nightmares). But I am happy to say that it really wasn’t scary or creepy at all!
Dumbo the Flying Elephant - Mouse PalsActually, we were very pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable and uplifting this film is! While it still has the heart of the original story and the deeply emotional moments are still present, they didn’t feel nearly as heavy as the original. Even though there are moments of conflict and heartbreak, the entire story on a whole was presented in a lighter and more inspiring way. 
My best guess would be that if you absolutely love the original classic, then this live action version may not be your cup of tea, which is understandable, but I have heard that some who love the original also enjoyed this remake a lot too. If you’re like me and enjoy the classic but it isn’t at the top of your list, or even if you don’t really like the original, then you might be surprised by this remake and end up enjoying it as much as we did!

Disney's Dumbo - Mouse Pals

REVIEW:

Without giving too much away, I will say that I found it to be a well written expansion on the original story rather than a complete rewrite or exact retelling, which I appreciated. It had a lot of sweet and touching moments (the “Baby Mine” scene made me cry big tears just like the original did), and I loved how they portrayed Dumbo himself (he’s so adorable!). There were also some good messages and lessons in the film, which is a strong point of the storyline. It was also a lot funnier than I expected, and I found myself laughing out loud quite often. 
There’s also some great nods to the original story and memorable moments, such as the clown fire scene, Mrs. Jumbo cradling Dumbo with her trunk, and Dumbo flying with the feather. All of the well-known songs are sung or played with their accompanying scenes, such as Casey Jr., Baby Mine, and Pink Elephants, except for “When I see an Elephant Fly” (though this song does get a fun nod through a few quotes in the circus ring). I thought that the Pink Elephant scene in particular was very well done, and I liked how they changed it (I won’t give it away, but I will say that there’s now a much different reason for Dumbo seeing the Pink Elephants – I always thought the original version was quite weird for a family film).
Dumbo Ride at Disney World - Mouse PalsThere are some elements I’ve mentioned in the “Things Parents Might Want to Know” section (be sure to check that out below if you have any concerns about this movie), that make for some heavier themes in the film, but I personally don’t think that this remake is nearly as heavy or as sad as the original. As far as mature themes go, I would say that many Pixar movies in particular, such as the Toy Story movies, The Incredibles movies, and Coco, have just as mature (if not more mature) storylines and elements, so I don’t think it’s too bad in this area overall when comparing it to a lot of other Disney and Pixar movies. We actually thought this new version of Dumbo was quite uplifting and inspiring, and we left the theater with big smiles. 
Like nearly every movie, there are a few things that I think could maybe be stronger or done in a different way that might make it a little better, but overall we both thought it is a very enjoyable, well-done remake of this Disney classic. 
Dumbo the Flying Elephant - Mouse PalsI definitely recommend seeing it for yourself before you decide if it’s a good or bad film, as some movie reviewers and critics have been telling people just to not waste their time seeing it. When it comes to these kinds of films (or really any films), I take most movie reviews (whether by professional critics or not) with a grain of salt, as I’ve found a lot of movie reviews out there to be quite harsh and not entirely accurate representations of a film. I can certainly understand if someone doesn’t particularly care for a film, but sometimes I think a lot of movie reviews today in general are often overly critical and more extreme than they perhaps need to be, and I always try to give a fair representation of a film – whether I love it or can’t stand it. 
So I encourage you to give this live action Dumbo a try. Personally, I think we’ll be pulling this movie off the shelf much more frequently than the original when we want to watch Dumbo again. 

* MINOR SPOILERS ahead in the following parent’s guide – if you don’t want any spoilers, skip this section and scroll to the end for my final thoughts.



Dumbo the Flying Elephant - Mouse Pals

THINGS PARENTS MIGHT WANT TO KNOW:

There are a few things that I think are good to be aware of if you have young children and would like to take them to see this movie. While everyone has a different opinion on what is or isn’t family-friendly, there are a handful of things I caught that some people might like to know ahead of time if they plan to take their kids (I can’t guarantee that I’ve listed everything that any one person may consider to be not-so-family-friendly, but I’ve done my best to list the things that stood out to me). 

Just a heads up – a couple of MINOR SPOILERS are in this section, but I decided to include them because they may be a concern to some:

  • Perhaps the most disturbing part of the movie is that one person does die on screen, though nothing is really shown. There is one very quick scene near the beginning of the movie in which one not-so-nice character dies rather tragically because he does something that intentionally puts other’s in harms way, but ends up harming himself instead. However, this scene is very brief and nothing gruesome is shown. All we see is something large falling toward him, and then afterward he is completely covered up on a stretcher. 
  • The mother of the children in the movie is said to have passed away from influenza, but this takes place in the past and is never shown. 
  • There’s also a couple of scenes in the movie (toward the middle and end) that take place in an area of a theme park known as “Nightmare Island”, in which “scary” animals are kept in cages, but these are actually just normal animals with costumes on. Overall the area is dark and foggy, and at one part some large looming animal shadows are used to scare a few of the villain’s goons, but that’s really as scary as it gets and nothing bad ever happens to anyone in these scenes. 
  • At another point closer to the end a couple of bad guys try to take Mrs. Jumbo away somewhere to get rid of her (the main villain does state at one point that they should kill the elephant), but they are stopped and nothing bad happens to her. If I’m comparing how they present this difficult subject with how they present it in other movies, I would say that most Pixar movies in particular are much darker and scarier than this film is. 
  • Unfortunately there is some mild profanity, but not much. I’d really prefer they’d leave bad language out because I think it’s unnecessary and isn’t very family-friendly. However, there thankfully isn’t a lot of language. I caught a few uses of h-ll and one use of the name of God in a profane way, which I’m definitely not a fan of, but the language level overall is about equivalent to The Incredibles movies and some of Disney’s other live action movies. It’s not near the amount of language most movies have today, though, so I’m at least glad about that. 
In my opinion, I’d say there’s not a whole lot of content or themes that I’d consider to be overly mature — at least not compared to a good amount of other Disney and Pixar films — so I was pretty pleased with this movie overall.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

Dumbo the Flying Elephant Mouse PalsI really did enjoy this movie and think it’s one of the best live action remakes that Disney has made to date. I also liked the live action remakes of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, but I think that Burton and his team have done perhaps a little bit better job of keeping all of the elements of the classic while still giving us an expanded storyline. Some have criticized past live action remakes for being too similar to the originals – what they call shot-for-shot remakes – which I can see (though I still liked those live action versions despite this), but Dumbo really can’t be described this way. It is definitely not a shot-for-shot remake, but it is also not a rewrite that completely ignores the fan-favorite moments of the original. Overall, I think that Disney has done a great job of balancing well placed nods to the classic and giving us something new that still carries the heart of the original.
So, there you have it! These are my thoughts after watching the live action remake of Disney’s Dumbo. Movies are definitely something that are subjective, so I know not everyone will agree with my take on this, but I highly recommend seeing this movie. It gets two thumbs up from us, and it’s sure to be one we will add to our Disney collection!

 

 

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