Dumbo is one of those cartoons that I have a fondness for simply because I remember enjoying it as a youngin'. I don't remember exactly what I liked about it at the time. I suspect I was partial because I was at that age where I rejected anything that might seem "girly," and Pinocchio and Dumbo were a couple of Disney movies that could be "boy" movies.
But does it really hold up to watch it as a grown-up?
One thing I like about it: it's short. After Fantasia, which passes the two-hour mark and especially thinking of certain newer blockbusters that near or even break three hours (I'm looking at you, Avatar), it's satisfying to watch an about-an-hour motion picture. Granted it's another full-length film that feels and plays like a short, but at least enough happens to justify it being longer than ten minutes. It is a bit jarring how rushed the wrap-up at the very end is, though.
Dumbo himself is an interesting titular character, in that not only does he not have any speaking lines at all, but he...doesn't really do anything himself to progress his own adventure. He pretty much does what everyone else leads him to do, without really making any decisions of his own. You care about him simply because he's a cute baby animal: would you have any reason to like him if he wasn't? Timothy is a more interesting character. I'm beginning to think it should've been about him.
As freaky and insane as the Pink Elephants on Parade sequence is, you've gotta admit: it sure ain't boring!
On the other hand, Dumbo's mother being confined in that dark trailer is one of the saddest Disney moments ever, trumping even a lot of death scenes.
Favorite character: Timothy, especially when he first wakes up after his hangover,
Least necessary character: Freaky elephant body made up of elephant heads.
Overall: Though I happen to like it, I would find it hard to recommend it highly in general.
-Was Timothy an actual part of the circus show or does he just wear the little ringmaster costume on his own accord?
-Timothy gets indignant at the crows for making fun of Dumbo, but weren't they really making fun of Timothy for suggesting the notion of Dumbo being able to fly?
When I buy or borrow a DVD or other digital copy of a movie, I'm often as or more enthralled by the extra material. I'm very interested in what the creators thought of their own work and what contemporary peers, colleagues, and historians have to say about it.
With Dumbo, I was downright shocked at how many people thought that this was the very best movie made during that era or at all. Really? I generally don't like to be negative, and I'm certainly not saying Dumbo was a bad movie, but the best? The story was precious and original. The music was catchy and clever. The animation was as technically pristine as one would come to expect from the Disney studio. Yet, after all of that, I can't bring myself to see the "masterpiece" claim that everyone in the commentaries and featurettes kept praising.
Favorite character: The lead Crow. While folks currently claim that it's a racist portrayal, it's still a positive portrayal. The crows as a group were like a jazz band egging each other on and the head Crow (did any of them even have names?) while having a bit of fun, did offer the best solution to the plot.
Least favorite character: Yeah, Elephant head thing was gross but for the sake of choosing someone else, I thought the ring leader was ridiculous. Did he never allow any of his acts to rehearse?
Overall: It's entertaining as well as a little bit horrifying at moments. I'd rather watch this movie than 90's sitcom reruns. You can make of that what you will.
-One bottle of booze in a barrel full of water would be awfully diluted. I can see Timothy getting drunk, but surely Jumbo Jr. had a big enough liver to hold his bubbly.
-I'm surprised at how many people know Timothy Q. Mouse's name considering the only time it was mentioned in the film was on a signed contract upside-down in cursive for a few moments on the cover of a magazine.