InsidePulse DVD Review – Dumbo

Walt Disney’s Dumbo Big Top edition

Directed by:
Ben Sharpsteen

Written by: (according to IMDB)
Helen Aberson (book)
Otto Englander story direction
Joe Grant
Dick Huemer
Harold Perl (book)
Vernon Stallings (story – uncredited)

Cast:
Edward Brophy ……….Timothy Q. Mouse (voice)
Sterling Holloway ………. Mr. Stork (voice)
Herman Bing ………. Ringmaster (voice)
Cliff Edwards ………. Jim Crow (voice)
Verna Felton ………. Matriarch (Elephant)

Rated G
DVD Release date: June 6, 2006
Running Time: 64 minutes

The Movie

To best describe this picture, I feel a need to break this review down into the sections in which we here at IP score these here talking pictures.

STORY: 8.5/10
Basically, what we got here is the predecessor to Carrie. Only our titular pachyderm has it much worse than that titular telekinetic teen. Sure, neither had a visible father, both were outcasts, branded as freaks and tormented by those around them, eventually discovering hidden talent that affords them extravagant public revenge.

But Dumbo had to deal with grotesque and sadistic clowns, which is way worse. institute

Dumbo has a deceptively simple story tightly spun into 64 minutes. Nothing feels forced or contrived; everything flows together quite easily. The thematic elements and foreshadowing work subtly and reward repeated viewing.

ACTING: 10/10
On the Chicken Little DVD something is said to the effect of, “isn’t this computer generated animation grand? You get a subtlety of emotion which is impossible in traditional 2d animation.”

Since I’m not supposed to swear in these reviews proper, my two word answer to this notion is:
Vladimir Tytla

Vladimir “Bill” Tytla’s work in Dumbo puts to shame every CGI emotion conveyed in Chicken Little. And it’s not just him. Dumbo contains some of the strongest animated performances in cartoon history. Consider this thing: Dumbo has no lines. His mother has one line. Yet, the interactions of these two characters is poignant and touching. The bathing scene, in particular, is funny and moving and just a marvelous piece of film.

ORIGINALITY: 9/10

Dumbo was made in 1941. It does not feel terribly dated. Plus, the 5 minute “Pink Elephants on Parade” alone merits no less than a 9 out of 10 for originality.

LOOK/FEEL: 9/10

Dumbo falls shy of a ten out of ten here for small errors in things like size and color continuity. Otherwise, no complaints here. There is some really nice animation here, particularly with Dumbo‘s use of shadow, silhouette, and surrealism.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 9/10
This film features talking animals, bright colors, catchy songs, emotionally draining moments of mother and child, sadistic clowns, unintentionally high-larious use of the word “climax,” colorful relief maps, and an uplifting tale of a triumphant underdog all in 64 minutes time.

TOTAL POINTS: 45.5/50
FINAL SCORE: 9

THE DVD

Tech Stuff
The re-master digital transfer is nice and crisp, with few exceptions. The film sounds great (Dolby 5.1 surround sound, if you care). The flick is presented only in fullscreen, but Dumbo was made in 1941 and predates common use of widescreen. You also get French and Spanish Language Tracks.

Packaging
It has the cardboard slip cover and the clamshell box with the those two superfluous buckles. The inside contains a chapter list, a synopsis of special features, a 16 flash card memory game, an advertisement for the DVD release of The Fox and the Hound, a rebate coupon for Franceso Rinaldi spaghetti sauce, a 3 dollar rebate on multiple brands of peanuts, a 10 dollar online coupon for factorycard.com, an ad for “Mickey Mouse Cluhouse” on the Disney channel, an ad for preshooltime.com, a mail in coupon for Santa Fe salsa, and a plug for The Wild‘s DVD release.

Games and Activities:
DisneyPedia “My First Circus” Game i.e. a remote based educational dvd game. You push a button to “spin” a wheel. It lands on an animal, say a bear. You choose from 3 choices what the name of the animal is, so A. Dog, B. Bear, C. Horse. After correctly guessing, announcer guy says a couple of facts about bears. Although, anybody who is challenged by distinguishing bear from a dog is probably not going to retain any of the subsequent facts.

DVD Storybook:Dumbo’s Big Discovery. A concise retelling of Dumbo with the potentially offensive crows replaced by some random kangaroo. Pass.

Bonus Shorts
Two Silly Symphonies from the ’30s, the classic and charming Elmer Elephant wherein another outcast elephant learns what makes him different makes him special, and The Flying Mouse wherein a mouse learns that being different is a dreadful thing in a cruel and savage world.

Music and More
Sing Along Songs: You know like on those tapes that were ubiquitous in American supermarkets 15 years ago? We get re-cut versions of the un-remastered “Mr. Stork” and “Casey Junior” numbers with the occasional closed caption.

“Baby Mine” Music Video: A chick and a dude whom I have never heard of respectively sing and play piano on a 4 minute version of the song. We see them do this thing interspersed with the occasional movie clip. I would rather hear the version that Disney used to pimp this release of Dumbo. I’m pretty sure that that version was Alison Kraus. I like her. This chick is a big nothing.

Backstage Disney

“Celebrating Dumbo” featurette: Leonard Maltin, Roy Disney and a bunch of others talk about how great Dumbo is. They make some good points, and it isn’t a total waste of 15 minutes.

Audio Commentary: A fantastic commentary track by a “cartoon historian”. At times he sounds like he is reading off of a sheet, and he tends to be a little dry, but I’ll be danged if it isn’t fascinating to listen to. He points out things like Dumbo was Sterling “Winnie the Pooh” Holloway’s first cartoon work, Dumbo’s connections to Nosferatu, and all sorts of stuff about Disney’s nine old men. Can’t imagine it is too interesting for the tykes though, unless your kids enjoy hearing about the dates on which german born character actors committed suicide.

Original Walt Disney TV Introduction: A nice little black and white, minute long piece of nostalgia.

Dumbo Gallery: One metric crap-ton of designs, concept art, etc. A whole bunch of good stuff.

DVD SCORE: 8/10
A lot of the stuff on the disc is crap, but it still gets and 8. The good stuff is really good, and there is enough quantity present to ignore the rest.