Dumbo

Dumbo (2019). Walt Disney Pictures. Movie still.

Aside from The Jungle Book, the live action Disney remakes have been duds. They range from unnecessary (Beauty and the Beast) to extremely disappointing (Cinderella). So, going into Tim Burton’s spin on the animated classic Dumbo it’s only natural to have a healthy dose of skepticism, but what we have here is by far the most solid and original take on one of these live action Disney movies yet (and the choice of Tim Burton at the helm certainly helps with that). Burton provides a visually stunning production, with all the deliberate/unique/detail-oriented bells and whistles that only he can deliver (the Dumbo story is based around a circus after all, so it only makes sense!). Frequent Burton collaborator Danny Elfman provides the very tasty soundtrack. Elfman, who can be annoying/obnoxious at times, really works perfectly here (circus music is his wheelhouse anyway!). Then there’s the wonderfully cast actors: Danny DeVito (as the character you think will be the bad guy) and Michael Keaton (the real bad guy) (this was a Batman Returns reunion of sorts here – DeVito, Keaton, Burton, and Elfman all back together for the first time since 1992!) Even Colin Farrell, who isn’t necessarily bad, but is very hit or miss most of the time, nails it in this role. The female lead (Eva Green), the two children leads (Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins), and the rest of the ensemble cast are all top-notch. But what Dumbo delivers most of all is a great story, full of heart, that doesn’t forget its source material. You can have a great director, all the great actors in the world, and great visual effects, but if you don’t have a compelling story, you’ve got nothing. Dumbo is one of those rare instances in moviemaking where it has everything, and everything comes together beautifully.