Dumbo 3D

Dumbo, the animated 1941 Disney classic, gets the Tim Burton treatment in this live-action remake starring Colin Farrell and Danny Devito.

Circus owner Max Medici (DeVito) enlists Holt Farrier (Farrell) and his children to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes a comeback, attracting entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits Dumbo for his newest venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green, Casino Royale), until Holt learns that Dreamland is full of dark secrets.

Trailers

Directed by

  • Tim Burton('Edward Scissordhands', 'Corpse Bride', 'Batman Returns')

Written by

Studio

Walt Disney Pictures

Kids & Family, Fantasy, 3D, Blockbuster

112mins

Rating: PG Some scenes may scare very young children

USA

Reunited with his Batman Returns stars Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito, director Tim Burton delivers his best family movie in ages, with a live-action meets CGI reworking of Disney’s 1941 animated classic. Dropping the original’s overt racism and animal cruelty, this Dumbodelivers wholesome family fare, in an uncynically old-time tale of how, if you believe in yourself, and never judge a book by its cover, working together we can achieve anything. Colin Farrell plays Holt, an injured soldier, returning from WWI, reunited with his two children and the travelling circus he used to headline with his late wife. Finding the circus on the skids and his horse act sold, Holt is offered the role of elephant keeper by owner, Max Medici (Danny DeVito), who introduces him to Mrs Jumbo, mother of a baby with ears so big, he’s given the derisive nickname Dumbo. But, as Holt says, “What can you tell by appearances?”

With the help of Holt’s kids, Dumbo finds his place in the circus, attracting the greedy attention of Michael Keaton’s oily entrepreneur, V. A. Vandevere, who lures the circus family over to his Dreamland theme-park, (which, when the letter “D” drops off the sign, might be director Tim Burton’s cheeky aside to the film’s producers). As you’d expect, the art direction is first-rate, and the Dumbo look so good that when Keaton’s villainous Vandevere first sees Dumbo fly he’s rapt, telling Holt, “You’ve made me a child again.”

Whilst a creaky, repetitive script and flat characterisations fail to inspire much awe, there’s plenty of family fun to be had along the way, featuring respectful nods to the original (including the pink elephant parade, this time without alcohol involved), sad scenes, spectacle, slapstick, and laughs, including a scene in which an incredulous Keaton asks DeVito: “Is that a monkey in your drawer?” De Vito is delightful, Keaton has a blast as the bad guy, Eva Green does what she can in a severely underwritten role, and Alan Arkin appears briefly as a banker. The film is let down by the flat performances of the youngsters playing Holt’s children, and some painfully dire actors in small roles, particularly one Dreamland controller in the last act, who warns Keaton against flipping switches with about as much conviction as a biologist explaining the aerodynamic properties of pachyderms.

Collider

press

Is 'Dumbo' a fully-fleshed-out film with basic components like character arcs or conflict? Not entirely, no.

Rolling Stone

press

This live-action re-imagining of Disney's 1941 animated classic may be the sweetest film Tim Burton has ever made. It's also the safest.

TimeOut (New York)

press

With production designer Rick Heinrichs, Burton forsakes his beloved gothic touches for an art deco style that lends it all a Gatsby-esque decadence.

The Guardian

press

This has been painfully de-tusked.

Variety (USA)

press

It transforms a miraculous tale into a routine story by weighing it down with a lot of nuts and bolts it didn't need.

Empire (UK)

press

Come for the super-cute elephant, stay for Keaton and DeVito's glorious reunion.

Hollywood Reporter

press

The filmmaker's overstuffed visual imagination and appetite for sinister gloom all but trample the enchantment of a tale that, at heart, is simple and whimsical.

Total Film (UK)

press

There are thrills and feels but this reimagination of the delightful animation doesn't take flight often enough.

NZ Herald (Toby Woollaston)

press

...despite a few underdeveloped characters and a score that occasionally gushes like a broken mains pipe, Dumbo is a tissue factory worth of sadness dried by a big top of colourful delights.

Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)

press

Even if the story starts to sag a little before the inevitable big finale, just relax and look at the screen. Every frame of this film could be taken home and hung on your wall – it's that pretty.