Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dumbo (1941)

Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Lay your head close to my heart
never to part
Baby of mine
How can a movie be so sweet and so off-putting at the same time?
Poor Dumbo is bullied by everyone he meets just because he looks different.  All because his ears are larger than normal.  What's worse is that it's the adults who are doing the bullying!  As adults, we should be teaching our children to respect each other.  These adult elephants are horrible and crass.  Dumbo's mother loves him dearly, and one day when the bullying goes too far, she goes on a rampage to defend her son.  Her reward is getting locked up and labelled as crazy.
Since the elephants won't take him, he is stuck working with the clowns.  They paint his face with horrific clown makeup and make him jump from a tall building onto a trampoline.  Dumbo meets Timothy Mouse, who decides to help him and becomes his only friend. 
Here comes the part I don't like.  Timothy and Dumbo accidentally partake in some alcohol and get blackout drunk.  They start hallucinating.  This is where the song "Pink Elephants on Parade" happens.  The sheer weirdness of this song and the visuals made my daughter very uncomfortable.  She did not like this part at all.  As for me, I have no idea who thought it would be a good idea to make a family cartoon character blackout drunk and hallucinate.
Dumbo gets so drunk he winds up in a tree with Timothy.  This confuses him because elephants can't climb trees.  He must have flown!  Dumbo is helped by the friendly black people (crows, but we all know what they're supposed to be. Classic family racism.) who give him a "magic feather".  Dumbo stuns everyone at the circus by flying and soon becomes famous.  Also he didn't need a feather; he just needed confidence.  Now that Dumbo is a sensation, he and his mother have their own train car. 
Of course, now that Dumbo is a sensation, everyone loves him.  It's interesting how if someone is being made fun of the teasing stops once that person becomes famous or rich. It's like the story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, who was shunned for his deformity.  However, once his nose proved useful, they all praised him.  Do you think he forgot how he was treated his entire life?  Be careful of who your true friends are.
The overall message is sweet.  Don't give up on your dreams or yourself, no matter how much people hurt you.  Don't give in to bullying.  You know who's awesome?  You're awesome.
I will give this movie a 7/10.

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