Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: Dumbo

Walt Disney Animation Studio’s 4th feature film


My opinion right after watching movie

My opinion on the film right after watching that is that it is easily the weakest out of the Golden Era. I know I ripped some of the previous films for their filler, but this film literally has about 2/3 of it being filler. The plot is barely focused on and when it is, it is very well done. You can tell there was tension in the studio and they were more anticipated about Bambi instead.


The idea of the film was brought to Disney a bit before the release of Pinocchio through a book, and he immediately claimed the rights to it. It was gonna be a short (which it should have been), but he wanted it to be a feature film, but they started working it in the financial failure of 1940.

During the middle of this, the Disney Strike happened. Screen Cartoonists Guild Herbert Sorrel demanded Disney to join union, which Disney refused. WDAS had better payments and a better treatment of their workers than the other companies, but the wages were cut lower and lower, and the firings increased since they moved to full length feature films, and in May of 1941 (after the rough animation was complete), they went on a 5 week strike, and nothing was the same again. Disney threw shade by making the circus workers a replica of the animators at his studio. The remaining of the animation was done by newbies.


The plot is extremely thin, so don’t expect much of an explanation. So the film starts with Mr Stork (Sterling Holloway) delivering the animal babies to the parents. I imagine your WTF faces already. So the bird is struggling to deliver Jumbo Jr (Dumbo’s actual name), and delivers it to the train where the elephants are. All the ladies are excited about Mrs. Jumbo’s (Verna Felton) baby, until…

He is nicknamed Dumbo because of his big ears -_- . So they clown him to only have her tell them to f off her son.

So we go through more filler of them setting up the circus, and the circus roaming the roads which is about 6 minutes. We also see Jumbo and his mother have fun together as he gets bathed. This is a nice wordless scene that shows how much they enjoy and care for another, and this is all through animation.

So they are performing and after a kid that looks like Pinocchio’s smoke buddy taunts Dumbo to the max, and causes Mrs. Jumbo to go crazy on everyone’s ass, and she gets locked up for being deemed as a mad elephant. The other elephants have their daily gossip session and blame Dumbo for the incident. We are introduced to Timothy Q Mouse. (Edward Brophy)

It is clear they are duplicating the Pinocchio and Jiminy dynamic, and I like it here better. Pinocchio and Jiminy only disagreed, ran off, and went back in some half assed way. It is a lot more genuine here.

So he comes up with a plan to make Dumbo a star (which is not the main story, and will not end all of Jumbo’s issues), and comes up with a plan to make Dumbo the star of an act with the other elephants. The elephants perform their act, but Dumbo screws it up because of his big ears getting in the way. Jumbo is demoted to a clown and has to fall off a burning house and land in a pile of water.

This happens sometime around here, and it is one of the good scenes in the movie. This is where the heart is at. If there was no heart in this film, who knows.

This turns out to be a success and the animators disguised as the circus workers come up with an idea of how to get more laughs and a raise. Disney can throw some shade with how they look in the film. They accidentally spike the water and Dumbo drinks it, getting drunk leading up to the amazing but completely useless scene of the Pink Elephants. 5 more minutes of filler in the 64 minute film.

They wake up on the trees, and are introduced to the crows. I don’t find them THAT racist, since they are in a positive role. What I find a bit racist are the black men and ONLY black men that were making the entire circus from the ground up in the beginning. So the crows get Dumbo to learn how to fly; he flies, and we get an incredibly rushed ending of Dumbo being a star, his mom being freed, and everyone loving him.

This film is extremely unfocused. The story is sinfully thin, not much character development, and the animation is iffy all the time. It is clear that Bambi was the top priority when the strike was not happening. Being old is not an excuse. Point blank.


The characters for the most part are enjoyable. We feel for the ones we are supposed to, and hate the others we are supposed to as well.

We are supposed to sympathize with him, and he does that well. He is naive….. and……. not the most engaging character otherwise.
He is better than Jiminy. He actually encourages and helps Dumbo, and sticks around when he is going through a hard time. It also helps that he is not spilling out bad jokes.
She is a pompous, snobby bitch. No other way around it, and the same goes for her group.
She is the typical mother.
There is no reason why they have to be black (and voiced by white actors) whatsoever. But they are helping Dumbo, sings the best song in the film, and are portrayed positively, so have nothing to say otherwise.


The animation in this film is not horrible, but not great. The backgrounds, color, and characters are a lot more simply animated, and there are a lack of details in almost all aspects. There are some blatant continuity errors (the elephants), and the characters looking a bit off, but what it does do well is to express emotions through the silent characters, and it does that brilliantly.


The music in this film, is pretty much forgettable. The score does not stand out, and songs like Casey Junior, Look Out for Mr. Stork, and Song of the Roustabouts sound very similar and is just boring. The only songs that stand out are Baby Mike and When I See Elephants Fly.

Reception at Release

When the film was released on October 23rd 1941, it was a success; the first one since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the biggest success in the 1940s. It was mostly a success because of the low-budget on $950,000, and making $1,600,000 in the box office. The reviews were positive, and they felt like it was the most charming film yet. It won an Academy Award for Best Score and was nominated for Best Song for Baby Mime. Dumbo was gonna be on Time Magazine, but it was replaced with…

Reception Today

Well. like all of the films released in Disney’s life, it is seen as a classic, though it is also common knowledge that it is not one of the stronger films. It is not a big film, but it is well-known and well-respected. This film is seen as the film that established the company to go with the watered down, less creative, commercially sweet films of the Silver Era and not get their hopes too high like they did in this era.

Final Score

Story = 5/10

Characters = 7/10

Music = 7.5/10

Animation = 6.5/10

=26/40=  65% 

Next Time……

Review: February 3rd, 2014

21 thoughts on “Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: Dumbo

  1. This film is enjoyable, and….yeah, it’s enjoyable. I actually love the Roustabouts; they’re like my favorite characters in the film and their song is my favorite song in the film.

    Did you know that the voice actor for Jiminy Cricket voiced the main crow?

    P.S. In your Music section, you typed “Baby Mike” rather than “Baby Mine”.

  2. This film is one of my fav. Not becoz of story or animation, but becoz of pure emotions. I cried so hard in baby mine. Always tried to overcome it by watching many times, and everytime same amount of tears…. …
    I think this is how disney did things. He never really focused on the story or characters, but the pure emotion itself. The fact that most of his films were flawed but still make us cry buckets is his true genius.

    1. Yeah, this film does have emotion in it, undeniable. Well, I believe that the story is always the most important thing, so I had to criticize. There are some of those films he did that have a great story, but others….. damn. That is one of my issues with Alice in Wonderland.

      1. Well, you DID read the article in the past…after all, you commented on it.

        Did you delete your account? And why the sudden change of mind?

  3. I made a dumbass move. I created a fake troll account to see how everyone would react (I did not attack anyone, but just made a wall post with a weird picture). I admitted it and everyone was fine with it, since they knew it was harmless and I never did anything to anyone and was harmless. An hour later, I was suspended from the site (this was on Friday). 3 days later and I am still suspended. I’ll let you know if I decide to make another account or not.

      1. Well, first I was bored. So I wanted to see how people would react if a person typed badly on a wall post. They thought it was weird. Honestly, it was EXTREMELY dumb, but I wanted to make a joke about the trolling situation. Sure I was not really feeling Fanpop at times, and the entire club messages them, but it was still dumb and I take full responsibility. If I come back (if my old account is off suspension or make another one), I will aware you. Right now, I am focusing on my other projects and other accounts.

  4. It seems to be of modern consensus that Dumbo is the weakest of the golden era (I personally disagree, but the drop in budget for animation is undeniable). I hope you enjoy Bambi more! It is one of my personal favorites 🙂

  5. I really love this film, but I agree with you on some of the ‘filler’. It’s also very short being only about 63 minutes, so I guess that’s why there could be some issues.

  6. I love it. It’s so short that the ‘filler’ doesn’t really feel plodding and slow to me. I love the it’s message of acceptance and friendship. That it comes from the most unlikely of sources. Love the artistry and it’s original story (as opposed to a fairytale we all know). I think it’s sad many don’t see it because of it’s racist reputation. To me the crows are a lot of fun and positive so while a bit of a caricature I don’t think they are offensive like the Redman scene in Peter Pan. But I suppose being a white woman perhaps I just can’t relate. Still it’s a movie about accepting those that are different so that should count for something. I love it.

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