8 April 2019

Tim Burton Gives Us His Big D

Join us on Facebook!
When I was in school one of my fellow students asked our teacher if they'd heard of the white-eared elephant. In confusion, the teacher asked, “what's the white-eared elephant?” to which the student pulled the pockets of his trousers out and said, “well here's his white ears” and then whilst pointing at his cock announced, “and here's his trunk”. I know that sounds weird but I went to an all boys school and when too many males are in the same room their dicks essentially become a comedy prop. The original Dumbo though was made when Disney was at one of the company's lowest points and so, like a crack-head in a shop doorway, they were just after a cheap hit to keep them going. With its short running time, huge heart, and cute characters, I'm sure that Dumbo would have seemed exactly what they were after too. The original animated Dumbo is like your favourite old person in that it's warm-hearted and sweet for about an hour before getting a little bit fucking racist for the final ten minutes. Plus it's got a flying elephant which is such a great idea. If a circus owner asked you if you wanted to go for a particularly magical ride on his long-eared elephant would you really turn him down? Obviously you fucking wouldn't. Just make sure that you ask what colour those long ears are first.

Right now it seems that Disney is running through all of its animated classics with all of the subtlety of a randy bull-elephant as it desperately hunts for films to remake. However, what made Dumbo so intriguing was the fact that it was being helmed by the master Goth and Robert Smith look-a-like Tim Burton. “What could he possibly be doing with Dumbo” we all wondered whilst remembering the decapitations of Sleepy Hollow, slit throats of Sweeney Todd, and the obvious leather fetish of every other single one of his fucking movies. Of course, Dumbo takes place in a circus and so beyond giving the ringmaster Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman gimp mask to go with his ringmaster's whip, it seemed like such a random match of director and subject matter. Except when you finally see his live-action version it suddenly all makes sense. Burton makes films about outsiders and loners being accepted into eccentric families and that's exactly what this is. In the real world, Edward Scissorhands would likely write his manifesto on the back of an envelope before going on a fucking shooting spree. In fact, that's probably why Vincent Price's creator character only gave the pale bastard a set of scissorhands instead of a load of itchy fucking trigger fingers. However in Burton's world, both Edward and Dumbo find acceptance in their adopted families before that family ultimately has to help them escape from the judgement of the real world. Fuck you real world!

The other thing that makes this Disney remake quite interesting is that the original is so short that you could nip for a piss and end up missing most of the movie. I mean admittedly peeing has become a bigger deal for me now that I'm thirty. I used to just be able to 'go' but now I seem to retain a shaft full of piss that I have to squeeze out of myself like I'm being forced to milk an infected udder. It might seem gross but it's either that or risk releasing a cock load of piss once I've put it away and essentially wetting myself. Anyway. So the point is that Dumbo really isn't very long at all. Instead of simply padding the sixty-minute story out to double the length however the Burton version spends its first half adapting the original story before becoming a sequel to it in its second half. He's also decided to focus the entire thing on a family of circus children that are looking after Dumbo instead of having any talking animals in it as the original did. Unless Burton considers carnies to be talking animals of course, and with Danny DeVito playing one of them, that could well be the case. The film also focuses on a one-armed ex-soldier named Holt which instantly ruined the film for me. There's a character called Steve Holt in the comedy show Arrested Development who shouts out his own name whenever anybody else mentions it. The second that the one-armed soldier appeared on screen my friend leaned over to me and whispered, “I'm going to call him Sleeve Holt”, and honestly that was all I could think about for the next two fucking hours.

Of course, the cast includes the usual Burton regulars with Danny DeVito, Michael Keaton, Alan Arkin, and even Eva Green playing the character of Helena Bonham Carter. But it's obviously the big-eared elephant that we've all come to see and he really doesn't disappoint. At one point Green has to ride him around the circus to which she whispers to him, “Right-o Dumbo, just remember, six times around the ring is all we need”. Well, it seemed cute at the time although I'm pretty sure that those are the exact instructions for applying haemorrhoid cream now that I think about it. It also seems unfortunate that they nickname Dumbo 'Big D' because if I'd paid to see Eva Green riding a Big D and then all I got to see was her flying a fucking elephant then I might feel a little ripped off. These moments of Dumbo showing what he can do really do soar, though with at least one scene being an almost direct reference to Winona Ryder's dance in the snow in Edward Scissorhands. Except with Eva Green, you don't need to fucking frisk her at the end of each working day. Dumbo might not have the gravitas of Big Fish but it does have the heart, which is why I find some of the criticisms levelled at it to be quite confusing. Some people simply don't like anything about it which is fair enough I suppose. Some people also like to be shat on whilst they masturbate and so I guess I have to accept that we all have a different understanding of what quality entertainment actually is.

However, the most common criticism being thrown about is that the film is either “too corporate” or that it's “soulless”. As somebody who once had a girlfriend tell them that they had a “brick on a piece of fucking rope” where their heart should be, I can't help but disagree with this. If Burton cynically took this film on to make a quick buck then he got very lucky that it happened to share the various themes and plot points that he's been so passionate about throughout his entire career. He's also claimed that this Dumbo is autobiographical for him in that it mirrors his own journey of working with Disney at the start of his career. Dumbo is the oddball outsider that finds himself working for a big family entertainment company in the way that Burton became an animator for Disney back in the 1980s. Both Dumbo and Burton stood out for being different to everything else that their companies had to offer which ultimately led to them going on to bigger things. The only difference is that in this film Dumbo moves to a bigger circus because everybody knows that he's incredible whereas Burton was simply fired from Disney because they thought he was too fucking weird. If this had been a shot for shot remake of the original like the live action Beauty And The Beast basically was, and if it had been completely different to everything else in the directors back catalogue, then those cynics might have a point. But in both cases, it's not. So you know.. fuck off.

Of course, I'm not claiming that this is up there with Burton's best movies, but if you want to see a hollow Tim Burton Disney adaptation then just compare it to his Alice In Wonderland. If I even briefly remember the futterwacken scene from that then I have to punch myself in the balls to give me something less cringy to focus on. However, the pink elephant scene here seems so perfectly adapted into Burton's usual style that you wonder how much of an influence that the original might have had on his entire career in the first place. If I had his contact details I'd him ask myself about this but seems as I don't I've had to attach the question to a depressed-looking crow instead, as I assume this is the standard goth way of sharing messages. Perhaps there are people out there who don't find his depiction of the baby elephant sweet and therefore don't find the cruelty the character endures to be particularly affecting. But you can't deny that the film does have a clear anti-animal cruelty message which is an improvement over the original which didn't even seem entirely bothered about how it portrayed fucking black people. I guess there are always going to be some people too who don't care about animals in the slightest and so don't see that message of treating the creatures with respect to be a plus point. Where we see Dumbo, I guess there's always going to be somebody that simply sees a nice set of piano keys. But I really liked this movie and I suppose in the end that those people can just check out my white-eared elephant and go fucking suck it. Thanks for reading and see you next time motherfuckers.

No comments :

Post a Comment