Almost three quarters of a century later, this still holds up. This is about a baby elephant that is just a little bit different, as he has ginormous ears that are the size of his entire body. He is ridiculed and shunned by the other elephants, and with his mother held in isolation for being a mad elephant, a mouse gives him the assistance to reach his potential. Now this is a movie that I can recall watching as a child, but to say my memory of it was hazy would be an understatement; the only thing I actively remembered from this movie was that there was a stork that brought babies to a variety of circus animals, and there was a Hunter S. Thompson esque scene involving pink cloud hallucinations.
It’s really refreshing to see vintage, hand-drawn watercolor animation like this. The music is classically done and is sure to put a smile on your face. In addition to all of the hard work that went into the production of this, you also have a great message that you can take away: it is okay not to be perfect, and what you thought may be your biggest shortcoming may end up being an enviable strength in the end. There are a couple of racial things that aren’t really cool, like the human circus workers and the mannerisms of the crows, but it only goes to show how much progress we’ve made this side of the millennium. I am also well aware that this is going to happen a few times when making our way through this ultimate movie list. Regardless (and I hardly think anybody is going to be upset about minor spoilers here, given the year this got released in), this ends in such a way that will make you want to cheer, as it is the same sensation as seeing an underdog come up with a huge victory.
There are elements to this that affect you on a base level, like a mother being torn away from her child, or the inflammatory ridiculing of an indefensible elephant. I mean seeing a baby elephant with tears trickling down his face, who would even have a chance at not having a tangible emotional reaction? This is a sincere, touching story about a mother and child, and being that it lets the young ones know that it’s okay to accept your faults and be yourself, it’s something that’s commendable.
Dumbo (1941) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire