- WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for “Dumbo.”
- Disney’s new “Dumbo,” in theatres Friday, bears very little resemblance to the beloved 1941 film.
- The live-action remake, directed by Tim Burton, only really picks up when the first movie ended.
- But there are moments that pay homage to original plot points, and some throughlines that expand on details from the animated classic.
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for “Dumbo.”
“Dumbo,” Disney’s newest live-action remake of an animated classic, will land in theatres Friday with a revamped, CGI-driven sheen.
The modern “Dumbo,” directed Tim Burton, only preserves the barest bones of the original. Indeed, it only really picks up when the first movie ended.
Of course, this was only to be expected. You can’t build a two-hour feature film entirely upon the merciless mocking of a cute baby elephant – and that’s not to mention the original’s various elements that would undoubtedly be deemed inappropriate today.
But there are many moments that pay homage to original plot points, as well as some throughlines that expand on details from the beloved 1941 film.
There’s a nod to Dumbo’s original caretaker, Timothy Q. Mouse.
The remake replaces Timothy Q. Mouse – the original film’s moral compass and Dumbo’s de facto caretaker – with two children, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe Farrier (Finely Hobbins).
It still pays homage to the original character, however, when Milly reveals that she keeps a group of mice as pets. One of them is dressed exactly like Timothy Q. Mouse in a red dress uniform.
Milly uses her mice to show Dumbo that everyone is welcome at the circus, no matter how small.
There’s a nearly identical scene with Dumbo covered in hay.
Dumbo is initially frightened of Timothy, so he hides his tiny body in a big pile of hay, only poking out his nose to take a peanut.
Dumbo’s introductory scene in the remake is extremely similar, with the newborn hiding from his human caretakers.
Danny DeVito repeats a famous line of dialogue.
When Dumbo is born, the circus ringmaster Max Medici (Danny DeVito) declares that he has “a face only a mother could love.”
The line is nearly identical to one originally uttered by a fellow circus elephant: “Him with those ears that only a mother could love.”
The baby elephant is given a similar costume.
Dumbo’s final costume in the modern remake is reminiscent of one he wore in the original, though the latter was less flashy.
Dumbo’s big moment comes when he’s made to perform with the clowns.
In the new film, as in the original, the circus ringmaster enlists Dumbo to perform with the clowns because he always gets a laugh from the audience. In fact, the clowns’ entire skit is nearly identical.
After donning familiar makeup and jumping from a burning building, Dumbo gets the opportunity to show off his talent.
Timothy Q. Mouse’s “magic feather” becomes a major plot point.
In the original film, Timothy encourages Dumbo to fly by giving him a “magic feather.” It’s a fleeting moment, but it’s important to build Dumbo’s confidence.
In the remake, the same idea becomes an essential aspect of Dumbo’s journey. Throughout the story, he refuses to fly without a feather, causing problems for his caretakers and fellow performers.
There’s a cheeky reference to one of “Dumbo’s” most questionable plot points.
While trying to cheer up his friend, Timothy unwittingly instructs Dumbo to drink a barrel full of alcohol, thinking it’s water. Both animals get unreasonably drunk.
Although the modern filmmakers wisely abandoned this plot point, they winked at the controversial moment with one quick line, delivered by DeVito.
While Dumbo is getting bathed, a clown runs into the room with a bottle of champagne in hand.
“Hey, no booze near the baby,” the ringmaster says.
The infamous pink elephants are adapted as a magic trick.
In the original movie, Timothy and Dumbo hallucinate after accidentally getting drunk, and the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence is one of the most memorable aspects of the film.
“I have shown this sequence to young audiences on many occasions and enjoyed watching their open-mouthed reaction,”Leonard Maltin, esteemed film historian, once wrote. “Nothing in Disney’s canon could prepare anyone for this phantasmagoria of crazy visuals.”
But Dumbo doesn’t get drunk in the remake, so the filmmakers had to improvise. The trippy elephants reappear in a surreal magic show, formed by pink bubbles, preceding Dumbo’s performance at Dreamland.
Dumbo has a similar run-in with a mud puddle.
Dumbo is adorably clumsy and often trips over his own ears. In the original film, this is often a source of taunting, especially when he falls into a mud puddle during a parade.
The modern Dumbo has a similar run-in, but it’s far less distressing; he trips and slides into a mud puddle after he triumphantly rescues his friends. It’s a sweet nod to Dumbo’s trials and tribulations in the first edition of his story.
Dumbo’s mother is still protective.
Although Mrs. Jumbo is determined to protect her baby in both movies, the modern remake ups the anti: She accidentally kills a circus worker during her rampage.
Dumbo’s mother is put in a familiar position.
After wreaking havoc in attempt to protect her son, Mrs. Jumbo is locked inside a small train car with a warning sign that reads, “mad elephant.”
Burton’s film recreates this heartbreaking exile, as well as the tender moment when Dumbo is allowed to visit her, soundtracked by the classic song “Baby Mine.”
In fact, Dumbo’s connection to his mother is the emotional anchor of the remake, as well as the catalyst for most of its plot; the children assure Dumbo that he’ll get to see his mother again if his performances can make enough money.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.