The Good

This movie certainly has it's heart in the right place is as puts across the idea that we're all special.

The Bad

I wish they would have given an animation tutorial on creating Dumbo's movement.

Dumbo is one of those tales that you can't help but get choked up by. The story is simple. After being delivered to Mrs. Jumbo by a stork, it is eventually discovered that this little elephant named Jumbo Jr. has enormous ears. He is nicknamed Dumbo outcast by the "cool" types in the circus group. It soon comes down to Jumbo Jr. and his only friend, a mouse named Timothy, to show everyone else what he is made of. Filled with moralistic elements and different aspects of many fables, Dumbo is the kind of movie that all kids should watch so that they can learn about how they want to be treated and how they should treat other people.

Features

Commentary by Animation Historian John Canemaker

As someone who still considers himself new to the whole genre of animation (even after completing my feature length, animated opus 1985-1986), I gleaned a lot from listening to Canemaker's insights. He talks about the film in terms of the backstory, and in doing so is able to put what we are seeing in it's proper perspective. While not something for passing fans who want easy entertainment, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

DisneyPedia: "My First Circus" Game

This is a circus game in which kids can use their remote controls to learn all about the animals that make up the event. I didn't really play this too heavily, simply because I don't think that it was geared towards me but I am sure that young kids will enjoy playing this game with their parents.

DVD Storybook: Dumbo's Big Discovery

Yet another Dumbo story for kids to learn through this educationally, informative DVD. Sadly, due to time purposes I wasn't able to give this the kind of look that I would have liked, but it seems like something that if you are willing to explore via the the DVD, it will certainly bring up some of the magic that the movie itself possesses.

Bonus Shorts

The shorts on this DVD are Elmer Elephant and The Flying Mouse. Now these were a treat to watch. Not so much for the stories because (depending on the subject matter) I am not a huge fan of short cartoons, but I like viewing the old animated styles of cartoon making. There is a deftness and soul to these cartoons that one can see hasn't been touched by today's technology. Not that I don't like that, I just find that these older cartoons sometimes have a deeper quality that comes with how they were created.

Sing Along Songs and "Baby Mine" Music Video

What would a children's themed Disney DVD be without Sing Along Songs? The two on here are "Look Out for Mr. Stork" and "Casey Junior." While I can see where someone would really enjoy these things, overall I just gave them a cursory glance. (Even I have limits with some of this stuff.) The "Baby Mine" music video is performed by Jim Brickman and Kassie DePaiva, and while I can see young kids putting this on and being captivated, I watched it with my usual ambivalence towards music videos.

"Celebrating Dumbo" Featurette

Roy E. Disney and Don Hahn (executive producer of The Lion King) are on here to talk about this film and put it in context from the time that it was made to now. While this isn't as in-depth as I am sure most people might want it to be, I think with the amount of extras on this DVD they have really done a fine job of putting this together. Also, hearing from people like Disney and Hahn help viewers understand what a rich history Dumbo has.

Dumbo Art Gallery

I really enjoyed scrolling through this mainly because any time I can see drawings by some of the greatest artists, I try and take full advantage of it. These galleries are really nice because they show us early versions of Dumbo and then we see the final images that were brought to life on screen. Animation is truly an amazing medium.

Video

1.33:1 - This movie looks really well made. Created in the years when animation was hand drawn, this movie looks incredible. While I am sure that it has been bumped up in some way when they brought it out on DVD, I was highly impressed with the way this movie looked. The richness and warmth of all the colors, not to mention the actual animation being put across, is just astonishing. Watching this film made me happy to hear that Disney will most likely be bringing hand drawn animation back into their arsenal.

Audio

Dolby Digital. Since this movie has musical numbers and regular dialogue, one would think that that would be enough for this film to have good sound. However, where this movie really grabbed me was in the scenes where there wasn't much audio, just introspective moments with the characters. It was here that I felt the heart and soul of the film really showed itself. This movies depth is an equal mixture of the audio/visual experience that it presents to the viewers.

Package

A wondrous image of Dumbo flies across this cover with some of the characters from the movie below him. Drawn in a circus tent they have really utilized the colors so that things are both flashy and understated. The back cover shows us some more images from Dumbo, it offers up a description, Bonus Features and some technical specs. All in all, they have found a good middle ground in marketing this DVD to both kids and collectors of animation.

Final Word

I had never seen Dumbo before I was asked to review this DVD. I truly can't remember the last time I got so choked up watching an animated movie. This film is filled with so many poignant moments that I was beside myself. Sure it has the classic Disney flair, and I have even read that some parts of the film were not "PC," but as someone who doesn't fall into that school of thought anyhow, I think this is a movie that is more than the sum of it's parts. It is a statement about society and it gives hope to the ideas that a lot of civil rights leaders would probably agree with.

With a sure hand behind every facet of this animated triumph, Dumbo is an animated film that rises above the pack.