Some background information: (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).
Official Title: Dumbo
Release: October 23, 1941
Running Time: 64 minutes (I happily applaud the shortness of this film)
Estimated Cost: $831,000 (1941) ($12,451,527.45 (2010))
Estimated Revenue: $1,600,000 (1940) ($24,504,851.06 (2010)
Overall Rating: 2 stars out of 5
I honestly can’t remember much of this short plot. But here goes… Mrs. Jumbo receives her baby elephant from the stork, Dumbo. Dumbo is constantly mocked by the circus goers (and other elephants and animals) because of his extra large ears. Mrs. Jumbo goes crazy and attacks humans when they are making fun of Dumbo. She is locked in isolation, and giving us one of the most heart wrenching scenes in the Disney cannon. Quickly followed by one of the most effed up scenes in the Disney cannon: The Pink Elephants, where Dumbo hallucinated because of drinking alcohol.
Then Dumbo, and Timothy (the circus mouse) wake up in a tree. Timothy assumes they flew up there in their drunken haze. Some racist black crows make fun of Dumbo but eventually help him believe that he can fly.
Finally, Dumbo performs a flying act at the circus; his mother is freed from isolation; and they get their own circus cart.
Look Out for Mr. Stork
Song of the Roustabouts
The Clown Song
Pink Elephants on Parade
When I See an Elephant Fly
Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5
With the short plot, this movie moved at a great speed not seen with many of the other earlier films (or many of those to come). But I still wonder the necessity of the Pink Elephant song.
Animation Rating: 3 out of 5
Some of the “cartoony-ness” of the earlier films was lost for this one. Not to say it was a realistic representation of what elephants look like, but it wasn’t trying to be either. Some of the big eyes were toned down a bit. The reduced budget, although made the background art suffer a bit, I found that this really forced the characters to the forefront, and their animation was a bit cleaner.
The Test of Time:
I did not like this one as a child. It always freaked me out that Dumbo didn’t speak, and those Pink Elephants didn’t help me like it anymore.
But Dumbo’s plight is one that most people can understand, so he remains a very popular character. Dumbo has representation in every Magic Kingdom park (and in WDW’s Fantasyland redo, he will have twice the presence, with a whole circus land dedicated to his honor!).
Through the Modern Lens
Those crows! Oh my, those crows! At the time, the sambo character was a popular tool to “accurately” portray Black Americans, but looking at them today, they are just caricatures of stereotypes that are laced with racism.
In the WDAS timeline would be: Bambi; because of the “vault" Jungle Book.