Whether you wanted a remake of the Disney classic or not, the live-action Dumbo flew into theaters this March. Thanks to the directing powers of Tim Burton, this fantastical tale of a baby elephant who learned to fly was brought to life once more. There might not be many people who remember watching the original. It was a fairly short animated film made a long time ago, filled with talking animals you could relate to and human jerk-bags you could not. This new Dumbo aims to adjust this formula a tad. Instead of having the animals be the stars of the show, human characters are now at the forefront.
The new plot basically follows the two children of a man just came back from the battlefields of World War I. He used to work at the Medici Brothers Circus as a horse rider, but with a missing arm and a long absence, he has to work with the elephants now. His kids' mother passed of influenza while he was fighting in the war (how typical of Disney to off a family's mother for emotional weight), so he has to reconnect with his children upon arrival. Dumbo's story takes a side seat to this human one, but the wonder of his flight is not diminished. It's just a tad overused.
While watching this nostalgia-grab of a movie, you might have overlooked a couple of things. As a matter of fact, you might have overlooked a lot of things. Dumbo is full of cute cameos, hidden references, and inane plot holes. All these tidbits are entertaining to look for, which is more than you can say for the movie itself. Read on if you want to find out about the things you completely missed while watching the live-action Dumbo.
30 Baritone Bates Was Michael Buffer
Baritone Bates, whose name you can find out during Dumbo's credits, is the man who announced Dumbo's high-flying act at the Dreamland park. As soon as he spoke in a thrilling cadence, boxing fans in the audience (if there were any) could recognize Bates as the famous Michael Buffer.
The Average Joe/Jane knows Buffer, even if not by name, for his catchphrase, "Let's get ready to rumble!" In the movie, Buffer's line was a similar, "Let's get ready for Dumbo!" that made us all chuckle with genuine amusement.
29 The Live-Action Version Is Twice As Long As The Cartoon
The original Dumbo was actually a very short movie by today's standards. It is only 64 minutes long, and it is one of Disney's shortest animated films. Thus, the live-action version had about an hour to stuff their movie with more story.
At close to two hours long, the run-time for this new Dumbo is nearly twice as long as the original. You know what that means. Half of the content that you see in the remake will be made up of new human drama and Tim Burton-esque filming techniques. If you liked the original, prepare yourself for extra plot.
28 The Storks Flying By Are A Reference To The Original
Classic Disney movies (and older movies in general) hesitated to show subject matter that directly alluded to child-bearing. Apparently, they couldn't have children seeing anything that might remind them of the miracle of birth.
Instead of showing Dumbo's mom, Mrs. Jumbo, carrying her baby elephant, the animated film included cartoon storks that delivered Dumbo to her. The live-action film takes the leap and actually shows Mrs. Jumbo heavy with her baby. However, it does include some storks flying by on the night Dumbo was delivered, which is a cute nod toward the original.
27 The Bubble Elephant Reference
For those born with the Disney spoon in their mouth, there is no moment so spooky in our childhood as the "Pink Elephants on Parade" song from the original Dumbo. Plenty of kids these days don't understand the strange, cerebral anguish that hallucinated montage had on our psyches.
The live-action version attempted to have a similar kind of moment.
The Dreamland performance included some bubble elephants, and the song came on during this part. However, it did not encapsulate the deep-seated intensity from the original. Or maybe we've all just gotten older.
26 What Went Into Making Dumbo
This new live-action Dumbo required a representation of a baby elephant that could fly. The original animated film only needed to draw the character. As with most live-action remakes of cartoon movies, Dumbo called for a more realistic version of the character.
The Dumbo in this movie was made with the help of a physical model, excellent computer graphics, and a real person stand-in. These three types of representation combined gave us the cute little elephant we see on the screen in theaters now. We still think it's a shame that the animals don't talk though.
25 Vandevere Is A Sinister Nod To Walt Disney
It's not hard to see the comparisons between V.A. Vandevere from the live-action Dumbo and Walt Disney, the real man behind the company that released the movie.
Both men own a larger-than-life amusement park that draws in visitors by the hundreds.
When Dumbo and his friends first entered Dreamland, it was practically impossible not to picture Disneyland. Of course, this gets a little awkward later on when Dreamland goes up in flames, leaving Vandevere to look on all his mighty works in despair.
24 Danny Elfman Returns
Danny Elfman is the musical composer behind many of Tim Burton's films. He composed the score for Beetlejuice, Batman, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, and more. Elfman is back for Burton's Dumbo, providing us with the musical accompaniments to Dumbo's high-flying feats.
While the soundtrack might not be as memorable as some of Elfman's previous scores, there is something to be said for his staunch history with Tim Burton. It almost feels like a Tim Burton film would not be a Tim Burton film without Danny Elfman.
23 Dumbo Is Never Taught To Fly
In the animated film, Dumbo is taught to fly by his friend Timothy Q. Mouse and a group of friendly crows. The live-action movie removed those two groups of characters from Dumbo's journey. Instead, the two human children find out that whenever Dumbo sneezes, his ears help lift him in the air.
However, you would do well to remember that elephants are not actually meant to fly with their ears. You would think that if an elephant was going to use his ears in such a manner, he would have to be trained. Dumbo receives no such training montage.
22 Casey Jr. Makes A Small But Triumphant Return
Casey Jr. is the name of the beloved locomotive who appeared in the original Dumbo. This anthropomorphic train carried the members of the circus around the country. We were absolutely delighted to see Casey Jr. was given a spot in the live-action version of the film.
The adorable choo-choo is given a live-action counterpart, complete with a face at the head of the front steam engine. Admittedly, Casey Jr.'s part in this new Dumbo is not as drawn out as his part in the animated film, but it was a great nostalgic inclusion.
21 Miss Peregrine Appears In Dumbo
Eva Green, the actress who plays Colette in Dumbo, is no stranger to Tim Burton films. Before Dumbo, Green appeared in Tim Burton's Dark Shadows and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Clearly, this isn't her first time in a Burton film.
Her role in Dumbo is misleading at first. You think that Colette can't be trusted because she works for Vandevere. However, she eventually warms up to Dumbo and the children, going so far as to help them free Dumbo and his mother from Dreamland.
20 Miss Atlantis Sings "Baby Mine"
After Mrs. Jumbo is taken into solitary confinement and labeled a "Mad Elephant," there is a heartbreaking scene where the baby Dumbo walks up to her cage and she holds him in her trunk. In the animated film, the song "Baby Mine" begins playing, pulling at your heartstrings even more.
In the live-action movie, you might have missed the same song being played during the scene. Miss Atlantis, one of the members of the Medici Brothers Circus, sings the song on a ukulele. Her rendition of "Baby Mine" sounds different from the original, but it does a good job of hitting you in the feels.
19 Medici Denied Vandevere A Drink
When V.A. Vandevere comes to visit Medici's small circus, Medici offers him a drink. However, since Medici has an errant monkey loose in his desk, he is unable to retrieve the refreshment. But if you were paying attention, you would have overheard that the clowns were celebrating nearby with some drinks.
All Medici had to do to give Vandevere a drink was walk over to the clowns' party and nab a few glasses for him and his guest. Instead, Medici and Vandevere just sat there, drink-less, as they began negotiations over Dumbo.
18 No One Escorted Dumbo And His Mom On The Boat
The happy ending for the live-action Dumbo sees Dumbo and his mother board a boat headed for their home continent. The very end shows the two of them living in the wild with other elephants. But how in the world did the two of them safely travel all that way?
No human escorted them safely across the ocean.
How did they deal with the human crewmen? The ship must have docked at some kind of port city. How would Mrs. Jumbo and Dumbo have made their way past civilization to uninhabited wildlands?
17 Beetlejuice Plays A Theme Park Mogul
Tim Burton has a collection of actors he has worked with in the past, and Michael Keaton is one of them. Keaton has played Burton's version of Batman in both Batman and Batman Returns. He also starred as the titular Beetlejuice in Burton's famous dark comedy, Beetlejuice.
Keaton's role as V.A. Vandevere in Dumbo will make this his fourth film that he has worked on with Tim Burton. Vandevere is a zany theme-park owner with some sinister qualities, which definitely makes him a classic Burton archetype.
16 Where Did Dumbo's Feather Go?
The two children who star in the live-action Dumbo are called Milly and Joe Farrier. Throughout the course of the film, they become close friends with Dumbo. So when they and their father, Holt Farrier, are caught in a fire, of course, Dumbo flies over to rescue them.
Dumbo always carries a feather in his trunk when he flies, and this is the case during his rescue attempt. However, before making it to the burning tent where the Farriers are trapped, Dumbo sucks up some water in his trunk to put out the fire. Where did the feather go when Dumbo sucked up the water?
15 Dumbo Pulls In Those Lucky Feathers
Dumbo does not simply hold onto the feathers that allow him to fly. (Technically, the feathers are more of a good luck charm than his actual means of flight, but we digress.) Instead, Dumbo inhales these feathers into his trunk before lift-off.
You might have missed this wild fact, but if you watch closely, you can see the feather disappear before Dumbo takes to the air. How far Dumbo pulls in those feathers is anybody's guess. Quite frankly, we're just amazed Dumbo does not have a collection of feathers sitting inside his lungs.
14 Timothy Q. Mouse And His Minor Appearance
Timothy Q. Mouse was the little red-coated mouse from the original Dumbo. He was the only friend that Dumbo had in the circus, and he did most of the talking throughout the film. In the live-action version of Dumbo, the position of Dumbo's friend falls to the Farrier children.
However, Timothy Q. Mouse makes a small sort of appearance in this new film. Milly, who has vague aspirations to be a scientist, has a collection of mice we see at the beginning of the story. One of these mice is wearing a red coat and hat.
13 Car Horns Should Not Confuse Dumbo
After Mrs. Jumbo is taken away from Dumbo, it's obvious the baby elephant misses his mother. He is despondent at first and begins flying in an attempt to earn enough money for the circus to buy his mother back.
When Vandevere arrives at the circus to check out Dumbo's flying act, he honks his car's horn. Dumbo hears this and thinks it is his mother returning. In reality, an elephant would probably not confuse a car horn with another elephant's trumpet. Dumbo should know his mother's calls more than he knows any other sound.
12 What Use Are Nets When You Have A Flying Elephant
One of the reasons Colette gets fed up with Vandevere and Dreamland is that he tricks her and Dumbo to perform a flying act together without safety nets below them. She is understandably upset about this. However, perhaps the nets would not have been helpful either way.
If you look closely at the flight path the two of them take, it is rarely over the middle of the tent where the net would be. Colette and Dumbo spend more time flying over the spectators, where there are no nets, than they do soaring over a net-covered area.
11 Dumbo Is Cute And No One Can See This
This next point is more of a thing that people in the movie completely missed rather than people in the audience. Take one look at Dumbo and say he's not cute. You can't, right? Dumbo is an objectively cute critter, and his large floppy ears only maximize his cuteness levels.
For some reason, everyone in the movie looks at Dumbo as if his ears destroy his adorable looks. They act as if he's some kind of freakish monster. It is the most unrealistic part of this movie, and, bear in mind, this movie has a flying elephant.
10 No One Should Ride An Elephant Ever
Despite its eventual message that animals should not be reduced to trite performers for a ravenous audience, the live-action Dumbo fails to make clear an important point. Riding elephants is a mean practice.
Elephants do not like being ridden, and the process of forcing them to accept a human on their back is wrong. This is true of adult elephants. And yet, Dumbo, a baby elephant, is forced to accept a human female on his back during flight. We don't even want to consider the ramifications on poor Dumbo's back.
9 The Map Montage At The Beginning Is A Reference
The opening to the live-action Dumbo involves a montage showing the Medici Brothers Circus traveling around several states on their train. They arrive at a destination, perform, pack up, then move on. This montage is a callback to the original animated film.
The first Dumbo included a similar such scene, showing the circus moving around the country as well. A major difference is that the storks delivering animal babies over the continental U.S. did not happen in the live-action version. (There were definitely not as many animals in this circus than in the animated film's.)
8 Milly's Movie Projector Is Old News
Milly's aspirations to be a scientist are fulfilled by the end of the film. She is in charge of a new act in the animal-friendly Medici Family Circus by the end of the film. She presents technological marvels to spectators, and we see her showing off a film projector to a crowd of people.
However, the live-action Dumbo takes place after the first World War. Film projectors were already invented by 1894. Milly's invention is by no means an original device at the point in time she displayed it at the circus.
7 A Flying Elephant Is Not Magical Enough For Dreamland
Admittedly, since we as an audience know before we walk into the live-action Dumbo that, at some point, he is going to fly, the wonder of the situation runs dry. However, even characters in the film completely miss the awe of that moment before they've even really seen it.
When V.A. Vandevere acquires Dumbo for his Dreamland theme park, he doesn't plan on having Dumbo fly around for his crowds. He wants a person riding Dumbo, too. It's as if Vandevere thinks a flying elephant is not magical enough for people.
6 The Perfidious Penguin Stars In Dumbo
Danny DeVito is yet another Tim Burton alumni that makes an appearance in Dumbo. He has appeared in three other films which Tim Burton directed, including Big Fish, Batman Returns, and Mars Attacks!
He typically plays the perfect "outcast" figure that Burton is so well-known for. In Dumbo, DeVito is the owner of the Medici Brothers Circus, a group of outcasts who perform for the public. We wouldn't call Medici a prime DeVito role, but he plays the part that was given to him well enough.
5 Vandevere Destroyed Himself
Most kids movies have good guys and bad guys, and the movie ends when the good guy defeats the bad guy. The live-action Dumbo does a good job of turning this formula on its head. True, the collection of circus outcasts outsmart the industrial Vandevere by helping Dumbo and his mom escape Dreamland.
But Vandevere's end is brought about by none other than himself.
He destroys his own theme park by busting the lights and controls in the control tower. You might have missed the nuance of this situation, but Vandevere is responsible for his own destruction.
4 People Booed After Dumbo Flew
No one can deny the wonder of seeing an elephant take flight. No one, that is, except for the crowd at Dreamland. You might have missed this, but after Dumbo performs in the big tent at Dreamland for the first time, the crowd actually erupts into murmurs of displeasure.
Granted, they're upset because Dumbo left the tent shortly after he flew, but come on, people! You just saw an elephant fly for crying out loud. Are you really going to throw a hissy fit because he didn't land in the ring but soared outside instead?! There's just no pleasing some people.
3 Dreamland Dumbo Dolls Look Like The Animated Original
Dreamland is all about rampant commercialism, but then again, so is Disney itself. If you look very carefully at the gift shop outside of Dreamland's big tent, you will see a doll display. The display is full of stuffed Dumbos.
It may have escaped your notice that these Dumbo plushies look exactly like the Dumbo from the animated film. They come complete with the pointy red hat and the frilly red and yellow collar he's known for. If that's not a way of promoting your own character within his own movie, we don't know what is.
2 Colette Needed More Balloons To Lift Her
Colette is a trapeze artist we meet after Dumbo and his circus friends make it to Dreamland, a bombastic theme park with Tim Burton trappings. Even though she began as an employee of V.A. Vandevere, the owner of Dreamland, Colette ends up running away to join the more down-to-earth Medici Circus at the end of the movie.
We can see her floating by a string of balloons as part of her new act. It takes more than three thousand balloons to carry 50 kilograms. Colette only had about twenty balloons tied to her, if that.
1 The Medici Circus Uses No Animals...Except For One
After their difficult experience at Dreamland, the Medici Circus troupe decides to do away with the cruel practice of using animals as part of their show. This is extremely commendable on their part. However, not all animals get to be released from this circus.
The horses remain to be a part of Holt Farrier's returned act. At least most horses are properly domesticated animals, seeing as how humans back in early times tamed them to be ridden. However, if the Medici Family Circus was aiming to be animal-free, they completely missed their equine companions.