It’s Debate Day here on Trope and Dagger! Today, we’re picking sides on the worst that Disney has put out there, the very worst hand animated Disney movie! To read up on Andy’s silly selection, go here: Home on the Range is the Worst Hand-Animated Disney Movie. Now, let me show you why a so-called Disney “classic” is actually a heaping pile of shit! Here we go!
Disney has become synonymous with excellent animation over the years. Starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Disney has consistently produced quality full-length animated features that have been adored by children and adults alike. From Peter Pan to Pocahontas to Lilo and Stitch, Disney has a remarkable track record for producing outstanding feature length animated fare. But do you know what movie really shouldn’t be considered in the same league as the rest of them?
Dumbo is far and away the worst Disney animated feature that the studio has ever produced. I’m not going to lie, I hate this film. It’s plot is terrible, the premise is absurd, the music is bad. Not to mention the thinly-veiled racism, but we’ll get to that.
Let’s start off with the premise. A flying elephant. Because he has big ears. Obviously, this would never work in the real world. But it’s a cartoon with talking animals where storks deliver babies instead of parents fucking and it’s meant for children, so let’s just let it slide, right? Wrong. It’s always bothered me that it shouldn’t work at all. An elephant’s ears, even if they were that large and it was a little baby elephant, would not allow that baby elephant to fly. It’s not like there was a witch that came along and cursed him, thus giving the excuse of magic (or if that stupid feather actually was magic). Nope, we’re just supposed to buy that this genetic freak is able to fly. Really, Disney? “Oh, elephants have big ears, what if one had big enough ears that it could fly?” Fuck you, Walt. Insulting my intelligence, that’s what that does.
Then there’s the music. Sure, we may remember some of the songs, but that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily good. We all remember “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” but that doesn’t make it a good song. I find most of the music in Dumbo annoying, ESPECIALLY “Baby Mine” and “Pink Elephants on Parade.” Those two songs are just downright bad. One blatantly tries to tug on your heartstrings and sounds like an 85 year old woman sings it (though that woman is long dead now, anyways, so technically a dead woman sings it). Then the other is only memorable because of the visuals that accompany it. Visuals that some children find frightening, and I recognize as someone doing plenty of drugs. I know that the characters were supposed to be drunk, but being drunk off of one bottle of diluted champagne does not cause one to see this:
There was one song that I actually did like, which was the “When I See an Elephant Fly” song. It’s catchy and has clever lyrics! UNFORTUNATELY it is sung by some rather racist caricatures. I know that many have dismissed the notion that the crows are racist caricatures, but come on, they obviously are. They may not be portrayed in a negative light, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not the cartoon equivalent of blackface. Speedy Gonzalez may be a good guy, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a slightly racist caricature. If it walks like a racist crow and talks like a racist crow…
And lastly, the goddamn plot. Or lack thereof: Dumbo is a baby elephant born with giant ears. He gets made fun of for his giant ears and his mother, while trying to protect him, attacks some children and then gets locked away. Dumbo is now on his own and Timothy Q. Mouse tries to cheer him up and then make him even more of a spectacle. And that’s…the plot, I guess.
First off, while the circus was definitely irresponsible in how they had their attractions set up, Mrs. Jumbo also may have overreacted a little bit. If an elephant behaved the way that she did, I wouldn’t fault the circus for locking her up and labelling her “Mad.” I mean, she’s honestly lucky that they didn’t do worse to her. So then here’s a baby elephant, on his own except for his handlers who feed him and take care of him and occasionally shove him out of a burning high rise in a clown act. I mean, Dumbo sucked as a performer, so becoming part of the clown act was all he was qualified to do! Once again, lucky that they didn’t do worse to him. Circuses are not known for being kind to their animals.
So things meander along, Dumbo gets drunk, then he can fly using his giant freak ears. He is then able to do this during a performance and it…fixes everything? Oh, OK, apparently it fucking fixes everything. He’s now a star and he’s beloved and his mother is no longer labelled “mad” for…reasons? Can Dumbo suddenly make demands because he’s an attraction? This is the same reason I hate that damn Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cartoon. Everyone hates on him until he’s useful, then all is right in the world. What kind of messed-up story is that? Nobody learns a lesson, nobody is put in their place, nothing! Just suddenly, everything’s OK. Terrible, terrible plot. Just awful.
Look, I like cute baby elephants as much as the next guy. They’re adorable and they sometimes have giant ears that seem way too big for their bodies. So freaking cute!
But cuteness alone is not something that makes a good movie. Dumbo is lacking in plot, in character, in music, in political correctness, in everything! I cannot stand this movie, and you shouldn’t put up with it, either!
Dumbo is the Worst Hand Animated Disney Movie. Period.
Thanks for reading why Dumbo is such a terrible movie! But what do you think? Am I on the money, or is Andy? Let us know in the poll below!