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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Disneyear: Dumbo (1941)


Whenever I watch animated films, I can't always expect something with the majesty of Snow White or Fantasia. Sometimes, just having a lot of charm is enough to make me like them. Dumbo is one of those movies. 

One night, storks are delivering babies to circus animals in modern-day Florida (which begs the question: if storks deliver the babies, then what makes the babies?) One of the late deliveries of the circus is a baby elephant with unusually large ears. The other elephants make fun of him to the point where they ostracize him for his large ears, but his mother is there to give him love and care. One day, momma Jumbo tries to protect little Dumbo from jeering bastard-kids but gets caged and chained later because the people though she was attacking the kids out of nowhere. The only person there for him is a little mouse with a ringmaster clothes, a New-Yorkese accent, and a heart of gold. He tries to help Dumbo become accepted but as a result from one disastrous mistake on an act, Dumbo gets demoted to a clown. After a visit with his mother, Dumbo and the mouse get drunk (the mouse was trying to cure Dumbo's hiccups with what he thought was water) and wind up in a tree the next morning. The mouse tries to figure out how the hell the both of them wound up in a tree and come to the conclusion that Dumbo flew up the tree. With the help of some crows, Dumbo learns to fly and becomes a big hit in the circus. They even free momma Jumbo in the end! Yay!

That's the story. How does it fare?

Like I said earlier, Dumbo is a very charming film. It's not as artistically groundbreaking as Snow White or Fantasia, I don't think it was ever supposed to be. It just sets it's own rules and boundaries and performs well under them. As Doug Walker put it, the story is your typical outcast-with-what-appears-to-be-a-handicap-but-in-the-end-works-in-his-favor-and-becomes-accepted-by-society story, like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The characters were a lot of fun and I enjoyed them for the most part. My personal favorite? Dumbo. It's rare for me to say I liked a main character in a Disney flick since I adore side characters mostly, but I just can't help but love the little guy. Even as a kid, I remember loving Dumbo to the point where I wanted him as a pet. What can I say, I love elephants. They're my favorite animals. Most of all, I find it fascinating that the Disney animators gave Dumbo a strong personality and not even give him a line to say.

How could you not love him? :3
Speaking of characters, I'm sure a lot of you are curious to know how I feel about the crows seeing how they've caused some controversy over the years. Yeah, it's true that they speak slang and have mostly black actors portraying them (the leader is played by Cliff Edwards, who did the voice of Jiminy Cricket), but Disney never pulled them off like Sunflower in Fantasia or Song of the South. Well, truth be told, I really like these guys too. They're cool, they're classy, they have style, they become one of the few friends of our main hero and even help him fly. They're f-n awesome! But hey, there may be something I'm missing here, feel free to give a shout on that.

The best scene? With out thinking twice, the pink elephants sequence. Yeah, it's pointless and it traumatized a lot of my friends, but it's awesome!

Overall, I really have a soft spot for this movie. It's simple and really enjoyable with some good animation, even if it feels like I'm watching a short cartoon. But hey, I still love it. And apparently, so do a lot of folks. After doing some research, I found out that this movie actually cost a third of what it cost to make Snow White. It wound being such a big critical and financial success that it made over $1 million back. It's a little film that really helped Disney in the long run because had the movie failed, the studio would have likely closed down. I'm grateful for that, so that's another reason why I always find myself putting Dumbo in my top 10 Disney films. 

One more thing: here's an ode to all the moms out there. Love you, Mom and thanks for everything.

1 comment:

RetroBrian said...

As the Nostalgia Chick would say, the Pink Elephant Sequence is a, BIG LIPPED ALLIGATOR MOMENT!!!! You pretty much said everything that needs to be said about this movie. It's simple, it's short, it does what it needs to do in a short amount of time. It's a warmup to what we would get next in Bambi. Not sure where I would rate this movie in my Favorite Disney Films. Probably towards the top. Another great film!