As a grown woman, inching closer and closer to being categorized as middle aged, I dragged my better half to see the new Dumbo movie this past weekend. We saw the first preview for this newest rendition back at Christmas, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I had been counting down the months and days until its release date. And so, this past weekend we braved the afternoon matinee, with all its threats of loud and obnoxious children, to reconnect me with a fresh take on a childhood favourite.
How was it? It was everything I wanted it to be. I spent most of the movie trying desperately to fight back tears, and failing miserably.
Now, let me clarify a few things, because it wasn’t actually a great movie. Sure, it was directed by Tim Burton, who I love, and it had a decent cast, but at the end of the day the character development and dialogue were pretty lacklustre. I honestly don’t remember the original cartoon’s storyline enough to say with certainty that the storyline took some major deviations, but I suspect that it did. But what it lacked in things that typical movie goers might look for as a sign of a good film, it more than made up for in things that tug on my personal heartstrings.
You see, I am an emotional train wreck when it comes to three things that Dumbo had in spades: 1) sad animal eyes (CGI generated, but heartbreakingly sad nonetheless) 2) ostracized misfits and 3) babies separated from their mothers, or really any family members separated from each other. While everyone around us, including the small children, seemed relatively unfazed by Dumbo’s struggles, there I sat with tears streaming down my face, crushed by the immense injustice and sadness of it all. And yes, by ‘it all’, I mean the life of a fictional, cartoon elephant. It may sound ridiculous, but then I would also argue that only a monster wouldn’t make the leap to contemplating the immense injustice and sadness that exist in the real world around us. And that is why I cried like a baby.
I cannot say that you would have the same experience watching Dumbo. In fact, you might loathe it as many reviewers appear to. What I can say is that for me it was exactly the emotional release that I was looking for…and I was beyond grateful for the darkness of the theatre hiding my tears.