Walt Disney returns in Dumbo to the formula that accounted for his original success – simple animal characterization.
There’s a pleasant little story, plenty of pathos mixed with the large doses of humor, a number of appealing new animal characters, lots of good music, and the usual Disney skillfulness in technique.
Defects are some decidedly slow spots and that the film is somewhat episodic in nature.
Story [from a book by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl] points a nice moral, although not one that gets in the way. Dumbo is a little elephant who is jeered at because of his big ears. But he is shown how to make use of his ears, they enable him to fly, and his handicap thereby becomes his greatest asset.
Yarn is set to a circus background, complete with clowns, the big top and all the rest. There is also a neatly contrived comedy characterization of gossipy lady elephants, and the even more earthy humor of a typical Disney locomotive being spurred to speed by a goose from the car behind it.
1941: Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
Nomination: Best Song (‘Baby Mine’)