Esther McCarthy reviews 'Dumbo' and 'The Man Who Wanted to Fly'
Dumbo (PG) ****
A CAST INCLUDING Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito bring their trademark colour and charisma to this family movie. But ultimately they’re upstaged by the cutest baby elephant in this new carnation of Dumbo.
Purists expecting a live-action remake of the 1941 classic may be in for a surprise - Tim Burton’s film takes only a handful of story elements from that movie, fashioning a very different take here and introducing several new characters.
Set in 1919, Farrell is Holt Farrier, a returning war veteran who has lost an arm in battle. Home to be reunited with his two children and the travelling circus where he worked as a star stunt rider, Farrier is dismayed to find the horses have been sold as the circus fortunes have dwindled.
The circus owner, Max Medici (Danny DeVito doing a terrific Danny DeVito) tasks Farrier with looking after the elephants, and when one of them has a baby, his children are stunned to discover he can fly. Baby Dumbo’s oversized ears may draw cruel remarks and jibes, but his secret talent could yet turn around the fortunes of the struggling circus.
They also place him on the radar of VA Vandevere (a delightfully snaky Keaton). He’s a wealthy entrepreneur keen on bringing Dumbo to his massive entertainment enterprise, Dreamland, to work with a beautiful and exotic aerial artist (Eva Green).
Dumbo is a movie aimed squarely at kids and families. There’s a simplicity to the storytelling that demands heart, and there’s lots of moving stuff in here about family, loss and celebrating your differences.
The production design and stunning sets bring the world of circus to life in the way you’d expect from a Burton movie, though the director’s wackier and quirkier tendencies have been dialled down in a way that suits the film.
Yet the pace, especially in the first hour, occasionally drags, and the movie would have benefited greatly from a trim to its 112-minute running time.
The Man Who Wanted to Fly (12A) ****
Journalist Frank Shouldice makes his documentary feature debut with this funny and moving tale set in Bailieborough in Co Cavan.
It tells the story of Bobby Coote, a man on a mission to realise his lifelong dream of flying an aircraft. And he isn’t about to let his approaching 80th birthday stop him.
Bobby left school at 13, his reading and writing aren’t great and his lives in the same house as his brother Ernie - though close, they have separate front doors and live independent lives.
He has some unique talents - including an ability to make violins from pieces of old furniture. But Bobby has always wanted to fly and sets about, as his 80th birthday approaches, to reach his dream of making it happen.
Investing his savings on a tiny shift-wing plane called a microlight, he takes lessons and clears a runway on the meadow near his home.
Like all the best documentaries, Shouldice’s film broadens out from this central premise, as we learn more about the brothers, their lives and their community.