Dumbo has a runtime of just over an hour but even under-cutting most feature length animations, this is far too long. Dumbo suffers from there being very little story to actually tell but an awful lot of padding to be done to make this a movie at all.
The plot is simple: an elephant is born into the circus with extremely long ears and although it is shunned by the other elephants, it is deeply loved by it’s own mother. Events occur which means the elephant is left to fend for itself until it is discovered the large ears can make it fly. This is a plot which could be covered in half an hour and still cover all the key aspects and best parts of the movie (with time to spare).
When the film is good, it is very good. A sweet lullaby to a newborn becomes a heartbreaking song when Dumbo is separated from his Mother and the whole sequence where she is certified “crazy” is one as dark now as it must have felt in the 1940s. The circus sequences, with the clowns using Dumbo as a prop and the moment he realises his “ability” are all great visually too and will snap you back into attention but it is the sections between these scenes where your attention will suffer.
As seems to be the case with a lot of Disney films from this period, the focus is very much on showcasing the animation and what the studio can do. There is no doubt this is also impressive although it feels slightly unnecessary when watching today. One of the most famous sequences from Dumbo, the “pink elephant sequence” is a perfect example. It is a collection of very well-animated scenes but you will find your attention drifting as it just isn’t the groundbreaking animation it may have been back in the 1940s.
Worst of all, Dumbo is boring. The story itself isn’t that great anyway and doesn’t really have a peak where the move culminates to an exciting point. This is a movie about an elephant that can fly and all the audience seem to be doing is waiting for the character to realise this so they can get on watching something more interesting.
Overall, Dumbo is a good showcase for Disney animation and what they could achieve in the 1940s but the plot is flimsy and the best moments of the film are few and far between. The movie is boring. You may believe an elephant can fly but you won’t necessarily care.
Rating – 2.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)
As always get in touch below with a comment but also like our page on Facebook (Views from the Sofa) or follow us on Twitter – @viewsfromsofa