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Audiences are in for a rough flight with 'Dumbo'

Phil on Film
Posted: 8:03 AM, Mar 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-29 15:37:29Z
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Disney needed a live-action "Dumbo" remake as much as the elephant protagonist himself needed his magic feather.

While the 1941 original was flawed, bizarrely short and pockmarked with racist moments reflective of the era's pop culture, it captured a certain earnest magic that proved tough to replicate.

Nearly twice as long as the original, this remake sticks to the playbook Disney took with the likes of "Alice in Wonderland," "The Jungle Book" and "Beauty and the Beast:" Making everything bigger, bolder and super-CGI.

The star of the show, a grey, wrinkly ball of adorability, is nearly enough to justify the price admission alone.

But enough about Danny DeVito. The animated Dumbo is pretty cool, too.

Director Tim Burton continues his tradition of delivering visually stunning films, as well as his recent tendency to deliver emotionally bankrupt experiences.

This thing is often twee to the point of a vomit-triggering sugar rush. And proof positive that when it comes to Dumbo, more is less.

Boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer is in the movie just so he can say "let's get ready to Dumbooooo!"

When he says it the fist time, it's sort of cute. When he says it again, not so much.

That's sort of the way "Dumbo" goes, overdoing just about everything going for it until it's ruined.

Dumbo shining his adorable eyes at the camera? Done, done and overdone.

Dumbo cuddling with his mom? Yup.

DeVito mugging for the camera in an over-effort to redo the persona of his character in "Matilda?" Sigh.

The problems in the movie can doubtlessly be traced back to the board room from which it emerged, and Burton ends up being more of a cog in the machine than an artistic visionary.

The performances reek of Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM)-style overacting, and the overstuffed plot adds little to the kernel of the film's themes of overcoming prejudice and believing in yourself.

A sizable portion of the movie centers around a Disneyland-like theme park called Dreamland that bizarrely -- given the company behind it -- positions it as a symbol of corporate greek run amok.

Whether or not Disney intended a tale of Dumbo destroying Disneyland to be a metaphor is unclear, but a cynical view of the material can sure read it that way.

"Dumbo" may turn out to be the point when Disney's plan of remaking all its animated classics replaces the "jumps the shark" metaphor with a flying elephant.

RATING: 2 stars out of 4.

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