Where do I begin on Dumbo? It’s difficult to bring myself to write a synopsis, because I feel like it would be a rather superfluous thing to do. I suppose I’ll get straight to talking about its merits.
I loved Dumbo as a child. I can’t remember what about it particularly, but I loved it. Most people talk about how Bambi makes them cry, and while I sympathize with Bambi losing his mother, Dumbo‘s “Baby Mine” makes me cry every time.
I also love the premise of Dumbo. He begins with a world of disadvantages. His ears are abnormally large, and so everyone makes fun of him. When his mother tries to protect him, she is locked up, and Dumbo is left alone. His friend Timothy’s attempts to make him a star end up in a massive fiasco, sending Dumbo plummeting into a horribly demeaning clown act. In the end, it’s when Dumbo really decides that he can be successful that he becomes an overnight sensation. What I like about this is that it takes Dumbo many tries to find his place and really learn how to use his uniqueness, instead of having a single plot with a single solution. These attempts add more layers to the plot and show Dumbo’s perseverance.
While I adore classic animation, and especially the music from these films, I was not a big fan of “Pink Elephants.” This is the scene where Dumbo and Timothy have gotten into the clown’s after-show alcohol and are in a drunken, hallucinating stupor. Although I don’t have a problem with a drunken, hallucinating stupor in film, I wasn’t a fan of the song or the pink elephants. It was always just weird to me (which, I suppose, makes it a good hallucination).
That particular lapse aside, Dumbo moves forward story-wise quite smoothly, and each scene really pushes the plot forward. Even the hallucination scene does more or less, because their intoxication is what puts them in the tree in the first place.
Which brings me to the crows. Who can forget the crows? Their oddly small part in the overall movie still earned them profound fame as possibly the most notable characters from the film. The pattern with awesome avian characters in trees winning the hearts of audiences continues with The Jungle Book and the vultures.
Dumbo remains an essential Disney classic for children (and the adults who remember and love it).