Tim Burton's live-action Dumbo bites the corporate hand that feeds it



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The original animated Dumbo (1941) counts only 64 minutes, a relic of days when an afternoon at the cinema meant a double feature with cartoons in between. Right now, at a time when the film must be an event in itself, the live action film of Disney's flying elephant fable lasts just under two hours. This requires either a lot of padding or a complete rewrite; The screenwriter Ehren Kruger, new to the Disney machine, but which has nothing to envy to the realization of movies to success, divides the difference by keeping the minimum of the original plot and by adding new characters and themes. Most of them are quite awaited – congratulations to anyone who made a presentation to Disney officials on the importance of STEM education for girls, which made them two movies live. But there is a plot in the reinvention Dumbo it's really surprising, and even disconcerting, when you think about it. Basically, the film offers a metaphor for the misdeeds of corporate mergers, with the circus circus V.A. Vandevere's (Michael Keaton) circus replacing Disney himself.

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Colin Farrell, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Danny DeVito

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Theaters everywhere on March 29

Of course, it's almost certainly a coincidence that Dumbo comes out a week after the finalization of the Disney / Fox merger. But what more to think when independent circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) is persuaded to let his little traveling carnival, which has just landed the jackpot with the birth of a flying elephant named Dumbo, be absorbed by the big la la (breakable) promise that his fortune family of these artists keep their job? P.T. Barnum-esque Vandevere likes to buy other farms, then associates his attractions with his own; in this case, the new law is a collaboration between Dumbo and the elegant and honorable French trapeze artist Colette Marchant (Eva Green), who had already hosted the circus of Vandevere under the banner of "Queen Of The Air". And did we mention the bad guy? This guy has a giant theme park called Dreamland, where he exposes his talented lackeys by his side. an exhibition of animatronic figures presenting the fabulous innovations of tomorrow? The metaphor traces, though everyone guesses how she survived her descent into business.

But let's go back to the elephant. Burton's CGI version of Burton – with big blue eyes sad on an expressive face – is cute as a weapon, and will not fail to sell its lot of merchandise, much like the stuffed dolls that Vandevere steals with cynicism when from the big premiere of his new star, Dreamland. (Again, the movie tries to combine the two.) Neither Dumbo, nor any of the other animals – some CGI, others not, it's hard to say sometimes – are talking incessantly, allowing Burton to dodge the most uncomfortable of the original. element, the scene with the crows. But the beasts interact closely with the human actors and blend beautifully into the rest of the cast. In addition to the digital architectural elements added to the practical packages, they prove that it is advantageous to rely on a mega company. And with one exception, the recalls to the original are also homogeneous: there is a soft cover in ukulele of "Baby Mine" and, in one of these new DumboThe most charming and inventive moments are a replica of the famous sequence "Pink Elephants On Parade", made entirely with giant bubbles. (No alcohol for Dumbo baby.We are in 2019.)

Photo: Disney Enterprises, Inc.

But while Dumbo himself is adorable, it is not especially Burton-esque, any more than the rest of the movie. His circus scenes and elements are vintage, but surprisingly devoid of Burton's frightening flair, except for isolated moments, like a frightful punch on the clown's mocking face as the fire burns him. (Do not worry, kids, it's all part of the show.) Dreamland's slightly sinister fantasy is rather in the director's corridors. He works in some of his characteristic art deco elements even though the story takes place in 1919, half a decade before this particular aesthetic movement really took off. Here, in a country fueled by the imagination, we see the whimsical touches of a long-absorbed author in the Hollywood system: Burton's affectionately addresses children obsessed with monsters with Nightmare Island, a Dreamland attraction where a dog in plaid coat becomes a Werewolf and an alligator with cardboard fins become "Reptzilla". And although familiar, the main theme of the film, which consists of embracing the things that differentiate you, carries an additional crumb of emotional weight, coming from the director of Edward Scissorhands.

Speaking of this film, Alan Arkin appears in a small role as a demanding financier; He is one of many cast members who are in their second, third or, in the case of Danny DeVito, fourth Tim Burton project. Johnny Depp is not in the mix, probably because of a number of recent incidents that tarnish his reputation enough to make it an inappropriate casting choice for a family film. But Keaton's eccentric ringmaster role might very well have been originally written for him. This is certainly the case, although Keaton's performance is several degrees less scandalous than Depp's.

No one has the chance to really play the showboat, let alone the whole drab family of protagonists, including Colin Farrell, Holt Farrier, widow and penguin trainer; newcomer Nico Parker as his daughter Milly, obsessed with science; and his son Joe, Finley Hobbins, who does not even have a singular trait to present in front of his name. Farrell's focus in Kentucky here is as passable as his Chicago accent Widows Parker's early interest in physics and chemistry also seems to be mentioned. The two characters are only there to keep the story moving, to provide amazing shots as we move from a strangely deafened sight to a pleasant reminder to the happy end that warms the heart. And yes, these are all symptoms of the same beating of implacable conformism that the critical film in his scenario. But what's more than Disney to control how a filmmaker can criticize Disney?

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