Set in Sarasota, circa 1919, the film opens with the Medici Brothers Circus launching their annual barnstorming tour through the American Heartland. While in Joplin, Missouri (Walt Disney’s hometown), Ringmaster Medici (Danny Devito) welcomes the return of his ace trick rider (Colin Farrell) to his family and the birth of a baby elephant with big ears.
The story is simple and conflict will ensue. However, it is the attention to detail that makes Dumbo so special. Music that animals sang to in the first movie is used as heartfelt musical cues. “Baby Mine” is rendered with sideshow performers (bearded lady, strong man) playing a flute and ukulele, while resting between shows. Despite some mean behavior and a jump scare, Dumbo is a sweet movie to take children to if only to see how a family sticks together to solve problems.