MOVIE BUFF-ET: ‘Dumbo’ remake looks great, lacks emotional zing


The first of three Disney remakes to be released this year arrived with a thud. That might be somewhat appropriate since the movie features a flying elephant.

Yes, “Dumbo” opens today retelling the tale from Disney’s classic but racially inappropriate 1941 original, and unfortunately the movie directed by Tim Burton fails to get off the ground.

The movie isn’t bad, but it doesn’t tug at the emotions when it is specifically trying to do so, and that’s a problem.

I’m not sure if I’m too cynical or too familiar with the original, but the movie just didn’t invoke an emotional response from me on any level, despite replicating the tender moments that made the original a classic.

New In Local Theaters

  • Dumbo (PG) 1 hr. 55 min. – AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Springdale, Bentonville Skylight
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  • Gloria Bell (R) 1 hr. 42 min. – Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne
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  • The Beach Bum (R) 1 hr. 35 min. – Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle
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  • Unplanned (R) 1 hr. 50 min. – Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle
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  • Hotel Mumbai (R) 2 hr. 3 min. – Malco Pinnacle
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I’m not sure what that says about the remakes of “Aladdin,” which arrives in theater on May 24 or “The Lion King,” which opens on July 19, if anything? Those movies will rise or fall on their own merits.

However, for me, it does seems a little bit overkill to for the House of Mouse to release three remakes of its classics just two months apart.

I love each of the originals to varying degrees and am interested in seeing the remakes, which toggle live action with realistic computer-generated animation, but you can only stand so much ice cream over relatively short period time before it all begins to taste the same.

Like most Burton films, the design of the film is gorgeous. The circus animals look realistic, although little Dumbo’s eyes are adorably exaggerated, but for whatever reason when the first big moment in the film happens and Dumbo is separated from his mom, there were no hint of tears.

The film is pleasant, and it features a great cast with Colin Farrel as Holt Farrier, a World War I veteran who lost an arm during his service. When he returns to his circus home and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), the trick-riding cowboy, whose wife died while he was stationed in Europe, finds his horses has been sold and the only job available is working with the elephants.

Just as little Dumbo must adjust to life without his momma, the Farrier kids are trying to cope without their mom, too. Holt struggles with losing not only his wife but also his position as one of the circus’ star attractions. There’s an instant bond between the three.

Danny DeVito’s fun as boisterous circus owner and ringleader Max Medici. Michael Keaton eats a ton of scenery as elitist scoundrel V. A. Vandevere, and Eva Green plays a French trapeze artist Colette, whom Vandevere picks to fly with Dumbo in his show.

While the film is bland from my point of view, the kids I was surrounded by in the theater did seem to enjoy it. Like most Disney films, the key character faces danger that could be a bit scary for very young children, but the movie is the least creepy picture of Burton’s career.

My guess is that the movie would have the most appeal for kids from ages 5 to 10, maybe a little older.

Grade: C
(PG) 1 hr. 55 min.

Classic Corner

The Karate Kid (Malco Razorback)

The Malco Razorback Cinema will be showing the original version of “The Karate Kid,” featuring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita at 1 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Tuesday in celebration of the film’s 35th anniversary.

The beloved film is the story of new kid in town Daniel (Macchio), whom karate master and World War II veteran Mr. Miyagi (Morita) takes under his mentorship when he finds the young man being bullied by classmates.

The film that also stars Elizabeth Shue as Daniel’s girlfriend Ali and William Zabka as Johnny, Daniel’s karate nemesis and rival for Ali, details the maturation of Daniel as a karate student, friend, and person as he faces and overcomes challenges that he never believed he could with the help and support of Miyagi and Ali.

As teen viewer when the film was released in 1984, I didn’t get the movie’s popularity. I thought it was a bargain-basement retread of “Rocky.” for the most part.

In hindsight, my opinion has mellowed. Yes, it bares some similarities to the plot of “Rocky” — which I still feel is a much better film — but it’s hard to deny the on-screen chemistry between Morita, who was nominated for a Academy Award for his performance, and Macchio. Their portrayal of mentor-mentee relationship is classic that still influences writers, directors, and actors today.

The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (Malco Razorback)

“The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus” was intended to be a promotional piece for the Rolling Stones’ 1968 classic album “Beggars Banquet;” however, things didn’t quite work out as planned.

In the late 1960s, concert tours were just as grueling as they are today if not more so, but they were no where near as lucrative for the bands themselves. However, they were pivotal for album sales and sparking interest in getting radio play.
Stones vocalist Mick Jagger came up with the idea for the intended TV special as an alternative method of promoting the band’s latest album that would lesson their time on the road.

While the Stoned had done many television appearances, they had only filmed their part of the shows. Jagger and his mates has little clue of the time it would take to change setups for each of the bands on the program, which also included The Who, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithful, and an all-star jam band, The Dirty Mac, that featured John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Yoko Ono among others.

The schedule called for the Stones to film their performance last, which ended up around 5 a.m. in the next morning. When director Michael Lindsay-Hogg began editing the footage with Jagger, the Stones frontman was disappointed with the band’s set. He felt the Who’s high-energy performance, shot at a decent hour, upstaged the intended stars of the show.

The drowning death of Stones founder Brian Jones could have been weighing heavily on Jagger and other members of the band during the editing. The performance for the show was Jones’ last with the band before his death.

The Stones withheld the program from the BBC, and it was not seen publicly in its entirety until being released on DVD in 1996.

Did The Who upstage the Stones on their own show? That’s a subjective question at best.

The Who’s performance is rousing, but I think the Stones’ was, too. They sound great, and as always it’s hard to take your eyes off Jagger because he’s always doing something interesting if not provocative.

The special also includes the only filmed performance of guitarist Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath fame as a member of Jethro Tull.

The only disappointment for me was the jam band The Dirty Mac. Even the masterful guitar work of Clapton and Richards can’t elevate or drown out Ono’s shrieking to a level worth experiencing.

The Malco Razorback Cinema is showing the TV special on the big screen at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.