Critic Reviews



Based on 54 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
An enchanting blend of Disney twinkle and Tim Burton’s dark whimsy that’s at its best when venturing off the beaten path. Come for the super-cute elephant, stay for Keaton and DeVito’s glorious reunion.
Its characters are thinly written, its antagonist is one-note, and its clumsy third-act action climax is wholly perfunctory. Yet despite all that, Dumbo still manages to offer the sweeping old-fashioned magic of an earnest family blockbuster.
Farrell’s Kentucky accent here is as merely passable as his Chicago accent in Widows was, and Parker’s precocious interest in physics and chemistry seems similarly phoned-in. Both characters are just there to keep the story moving, to provide awestruck reaction shots as we move from oddly muted spectacle to agreeable callback to the heartwarming happy ending.
Even leaving aside the fan-pleasing sight of Burton’s Dark Knight and Penguin sharing the same big top, the Batman parallels are inescapable. Keaton tears a page from the Jack Nicholson Joker playbook with his most deliriously huge performance in years.
When that visual leaves a more captivating impression than a baby elephant spreading its ears and getting airborne like a glider, something is definitely off in the balance. The new Dumbo holds the attention but too seldom tugs at the heartstrings.
Burton has blown up Disney’s ode to magic, misfits finding their gift and a mother’s love into a shiny but bloated, glum affair that feels “BIG EVENT” in scope, and depressingly heartless in execution.
Like many (or all) of the movies Burton has made this century, Dumbo is a shallow pop spectacle that’s forced to rely on its more superficial charms; unlike many (or all) of those other movies, this one actually has superficial charms on which to rely.
The problem with this latest entry in Disney’s ever-expanding range of recycled classics isn’t that it hews too close to the studio’s original animated masterpiece, but that its many departures only muddle the original’s nursery-rhyme simplicity and neuter its famous sustained emotional wallop.
And that’s what this overly eager, fractious, Burtonized but standardized, loudly comic but ultimately rather mirthless remake does to Dumbo. It transforms a miraculous tale into a routine story by weighing it down with a lot of nuts and bolts it didn’t need. The character of Dumbo is still touching, but the tale of entrapment and rescue that surrounds him is not. It’s arduous and forgettable, done in busy italicized strokes, and apart from that FX elephant the movie doesn’t come up with a single character who hooks us emotionally.
This has been painfully de-tusked.

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