Dumbo (2019)

Theatrical Release: March 29, 2019
Dumbo (2019)


The Dove Take:

This live-action trip to the big top has got some beauty, banality, and some rough content.

Dove Review

The Synopsis:

A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus. But when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.

The Review:

Tim Burton’s Dumbo jumps from animation to live action, yet loses its emotion on takeoff. Visually, the film’s production is great, but the vacuum of emotion and interest renders the experience more benign than bold. A cotton candy-colored sunset, bubbles floating and flexing into pachyderm proportions, even a trapeze act on a chandelier that could be from Gatsby’s mansion—while worth praising for direction, production, and performance, these effects can only carry everything so far. It’s uncompellingly slower, heavier, and darker than the 1941 film; like a beautiful hot-air balloon with too many needless sandbags.

Dumbo may have appealing aspects, but it’s rather banal—and not simply by comparing it to the older Dumbo. They’re their own films. While this Dumbo emphasizes drama (with more language and dark vibe), the drama is so straightforward it could seem cliché, though seemingly aimed at a more grown-up audience. The heavier and darker elements are unnecessarily abrasive rather than mature. There are some great, and potentially memorable, sequences of circus extravagance, and the story at its core is timeless. But major attention is on less effective or engaging things.

The character and story of Dumbo are wonderful. The question is if this film has our elephant friend flying as high as he could.

There is some content, including a character saying “to H— with it”. Dumbo is Dove-Approved Ages 12+.

Content Description

Faith: None
Integrity: Bravery; love; believing in one’s self
Sex: Mention of someone running off with someone; an uncomfortable kiss on the side of the face; talk of a character pretending to be another character’s girlfriend; a couple almost kisses; a woman affectionately kisses an elephant; a man and woman kiss.
Language: H-1; “to H--- with it”; “h--- of a show”; a man almost says S; a character says “Good God”; “gosh”; “what the heck”; “goddess”; “son of a gun”; name-calling; “shut up”; multiple times, the word “freaks” may be said in a mean way.
Violence: Threatening and mean talk to elephant; a man hits another man, and there is some blood on the other man’s face and from his nose; an elephant throws a man; a man is crushed by a beam, and his body is seen, but not overly graphic; a main character was a soldier, and lost his right arm; talk of influenza, and how it killed people; talk about killing an elephant, and also implying to make it into boots (also implying that the boots which we see a character wear are made from elephant); people pushed and pulled into water; a character is kicked; a character is thrown; a character is pushed; a man dragged by horse; a man grabs another man; a gun shoots balloons; danger.
Drugs: Bottles of alcohol; drinking “booze”; mention of alcohol; a flask is seen.
Nudity: Formfitting and somewhat revealing outfits/costumes; performer tights, skirts that are short; some cleavage; swimsuit; a man in a bath
Other: Talk about sad and heavy things, such as characters’ dead mom; negative talk; kids disobey, and do things without parents; talking about how a father leaving was positive; talk of how a girl “runs away to go to school”; some danger, such as heights and falling; lying; talk of a dead character knowing that a character is somewhere, and is presented as positive; mention of gods taking animal form; a character who’s a performer, perhaps as part of her acting, looks to water and says, “return me to the vast abyss”; talk of breaking rules; mannequins have traditional gender clothing swapped; some jokes, including about war; some stunts which may be dangerous to attempt, such as juggling knives; a prosthetic arm which some may find unsettling; animal dung is seen and stepped in; creepy and scary things and noises, including a place called “Nightmare Island” (including scary names and words) at a theme park; a jump-scare, and maybe more; fire; clowns with padded posteriors; a skull; “bewitching”; panic


Company: Disney
Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Family
Runtime: 130 min.
Reviewer: John P.