Dumbo came out in 1941 and is, especially in comparison to Fantasia a rather short movie with a length of just over one hour. Even Snow White and Pinocchio were longer than this. I was actually pretty stoked to watch this movie because ELEPHANTS! And that was also my basic knowledge of the entire movie aside from, you know, a flying elephant.
The movie opens with the view of a cloudy and very rainy sky. Then we get to see a whole flock of storks carrying bundles and I’m gonna go out on a limb here, saying these are babies. Shocking. I KNOW! Instead of delivering these babies to humans, as was my first thought, they are delivered to animals that presumably belong to a circus. Lots of baby drops and the receiving mamas all look really happy with their deliveries. Only one expecting mother keeps expectantly looking up in the sky, waiting for her bundle to drop and it is sad to watch as she watches the bundles of joy being dropped left and right of her.
I’m going to interrupt this recount here to say that I dislike this use of the stork-tale. Like I am now supposed to believe that even the baby animals are delivered by the stork? HOOKAY. Mini!Me didn’t believe in the stork-brings-babies-thing. I also did always know that Santa wasn’t real (mostly because there was someone supposed to be Santa while the presents at Grandma’s were always delivered by Christkind, you see my confusion). Moving on.
The next day, the circus is packing up all the animals into one large train which has difficulties to even start. It looks pretty cool while trying and eventually manages to set itself in motion. Then we see one lone stork with a bundle and he is having difficulties navigating to his destination. Only after intensive studying of his map is he able to figure out where he is going. This is not a competent guy I would want my baby to be delivered by, especially since he almost loses the bundle several times, but that’s just me. Eventually though the baby is delivered to, you guessed it, poor neglected elephant mama. She gets the special deal with song and rhyme though, probably to make up for the delay.
After unpacking her little bundle o’ joy, an adorable mini!elephant takes his first look at the world. Everything seems perfect but…he has gigantic ears. The other elephants in the compartment are shocked but Mama!Elephant is cool with it and you can just see love oozing out of her when she looks at her little Dumbo.
After the train arrives at its destination and the animals, mostly the elephants, help in setting up the big tent, little Dumbo is adorable as always and helping as best as he can. The next day the circus does some parade kind of thing. My guess is to let people know they’re there. These circus times look way more glamorous and interesting than any circus I’ve ever encountered but okay. Poor Dumbo stumbles over his huge ears, falls into a mud-hole and is publicly embarrassed. Me so sad. At least his Mama is there to make it all better with love. This is one attentive parent if I might add (maybe I am just so sensitive to good parenting since all of Snark Squads Traumaland is FULL of negligent parents).
After Dumbo humiliates himself again and his Mama gets angry with the people watching for making fun of him, she gets really mad and the circus people put her in chains and later solitary confinement. Sadz, yo. You just don’t separate mother and child, you hear me? This breaks my little heart, let me tell you!
The other elephants are all together gossiping about Dumbo and his Mama which makes little Dumbo extra sad. Thank god for the mouse that sticks up for him and makes use of the cliché that elephants are afraid of mice. Methinks Dumbo just made a new and meaningful friend.
Mouse then tries to score the feature spot for Dumbo on the new elephant act and succeeds only for Dumbo to fuck it up when the time comes. Also, I don’t know why I keep expecting the laws of physics to be uphold because we have speaking animals and all that stuff but this pyramid thing? Yeah, I’m not digging it at all.
As if it was not enough for Dumbo to humiliate himself again in front of a gigantic audience, his mishap also cost him any good will he ever had with the other elephants. He gets put on clown duty and the others even go as far as excommunicating him from elephanthood. Lol, like this is something they could do. Just because he doesn’t fit in with their stereotypical idea of what an elephant is, mostly due to his abnormally huge ears, he is still an elephant godamnit!
The clown act is, as was to be expected, terrible, Dumbo looks miserably and has to jump down from some height. It’s really terrible and you can see how sad he is. Thankfully he got his Mouse friend to talk him up again. Later that night, they both go to see Mama!Elephant in solitary and it is heartbreaking. ALL. THE. FEELS!
The clowns meanwhile try to plot an even better, read douchier, act. They really are not the sharpest bunch of people. Somehow one bottle containing some sort of alcoholic beverage falls into a bucket of water that sad Dumbo is encouraged by Mouse to take a sip of. Of course he gets really drunk and Mouse falls into the bucket and gets drunk as well. What follows is a ridiculously hilarious psychedelic dream sequence with a pink elephant marching band.
They are woken up the next morning by some birds because they somehow managed to end up pretty high up in some tree. Which doesn’t go well and they fall to the ground. Mouse deduces that the only way they could have ended up on that branch was if Dumbo flew them there by the power of his enormous ears. Dumbo wants to hear nothing of the sort so Mouse uses the oldest psychological trick in the book, hands him some ‘magic’ feather that enables him to fly. AND. HE. FLIES! Isn’t it beautiful?
At the new and not improved clown act, Dumbo is located way up in the air, supposed to fall down which is apparently hilarious? IDK. When the moment comes he manages to fly and impress the entire audience. He has finally found a way to utilise these huge ears that always seemed to hold him back, isn’t it a glorious moment?! Yes, it is! His flying act makes him famous and rich. Everything was good and right in the world again.
While I appreciated the moral of the story that the thing that sets you apart, for which you aren’t even responsible, can turn into your greatest asset, I was also hugely underwhelmed by this movie. Maybe my expectations were too high but then again, I went into this, basically not knowing anything about the story and it was not that good in my humble opinion. This is the weakest of the movies I’ve seen so far. I love the scenes between Dumbo and his Mama though, they are so genuine and heartbreaking, I get all feels-y. Also, there was really not a lot of singing in this movie, which again, struck me as odd.