(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Dumbo)
Doug (vo): Well, after Fantasia gave a disappointing turnout at the box office, it seemed Disney had to go back to the traditional narrative. Dumbo was the fourth film they ever released. It’s a curious choice because while it is artistically interesting at times, it’s not anything really groundbreaking. Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia, you could definitely argue, broke some new ground. Dumbo...is just sort of your typical kids’ flick, but it’s not bad. Actually, something I always noticed about Dumbo is that Dumbo is never actually the focus. He doesn’t even talk. He just sort of walks around, looking cute. I mean, in words, he’s big-eyed, curious all and those other things you’d expect out of Disney characters. But the focus of the movie is the rest of the world. The world of the circus, the world of the animals, the world of...getting drunk. It’s all about strange visuals. He’s very much the observer, not the focus. But, hey, that’s fine by me. I love weird imagery, especially if it’s brought to us by Disney.
Doug (vo): The story’s very basic. An elephant gives birth to a little elephant that’s born with big ears. He’s considered an outcast and often gets into trouble for it. When one kid goes too far in making fun of him, the mother takes the guy and starts beating the crap out of him. Thus, she gets thrown away in the cellar and Dumbo’s left on his own, just with one little friend, a circus mouse. The rest of the movie is just things going wrong, weird people and weird things approaching him, and, well, Dumbo looking confused. Again, I don’t have a problem with it if it’s done well, and it’s done reasonably well. It’s just a weird strange environment that they built for. It’s funny because most posters showed Dumbo flying, but really, he doesn’t fly until the last 10 minutes. It just proves to be your basic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story, but it works well enough.
Doug (vo): Like I said, the weird angles and often bizarre tone really helped to give the film a very interesting identity, and actually sort of sets it apart from the other Disney films. Now there is big debate about whether or not the crows in this movie are racist. Obviously, they’re all played by black actors and they do use slang and say the word ‘brother’ every once in a while. But Disney never pulled it like they did Song of the South or some of the other racially-insensitive cartoons, and from the standpoint of just a dumb white kid, I thought they were cool. They had style, they had class, they’re the ones that made Dumbo fly. What’s not to like? They’re frigging awesome. Now, again, I am speaking as a dumb white kid. Maybe there is something there I’m missing, but, for me, personally, I never saw the problem. The Pink Elephant scene, though entirely pointless, is frigging awesome. I love this scene as a kid, I love it now. It’s weird, it’s strange, it’s kind of dark, it’s almost creepy, but it’s also very enjoyable. The animation is flowing, the weird designs they come up with are just surreal. It’s just pure craziness, and, yeah, there’s really no point to it, but I frigging love it. They do have some emotional scenes, too, like the scene where Dumbo hugs his mother as one of those big tearjerkers that every girl I know always goes nuts when they see. And like I said before, the world they create for Dumbo’s always big, massive and threatening. So when you get to the happy-pappy points, it’s all the more enjoyable.
Doug (vo): Overall, Dumbo is a decent movie. It’s not up to par with some of the more traditional Disney films, but I don’t think it was meant to be. It sort of set its own rules and it stuck with it, and I think it’s pretty awesome for that. It’s a fun film with some fun sequences.
[The scene showing Dumbo landing on a electric pole after his first flight is shown]