At 64 minutes, Dumbo is definitely the shortest and surely the sweetest Disney animated feature. It’s also the only one with a mute title character, ideal for parents sick of the surfeit of smart-aleck critters in Over the Hedge, The Wild, and Hoodwinked (any of which might make a grown-up wonder: Where’s the guy who shot Bambi’s mom when you need him?). In this 1941 masterpiece of devotion and redemption, childhood humiliation — wing-size elephant ears, à la Rudolph’s red nose — turns into triumph. For Disney, still reeling from apathy toward their most ambitious project, this follow-up was the anti-Fantasia, in simplicity and profitability. Not that they’d completely got whatever they were smoking out of their system: Beyond the legendarily tear-jerking ”Baby Mine,” Dumbo‘s other classic musical number is ”Pink Elephants on Parade,” a veritable acid bath that even Dalí might’ve considered freaky. Leonard Maltin says in a 15-minute featurette that Dumbo ”gets taken for granted.” As proof, perhaps, the extra is a holdover from 2001’s 60th Anniversary Edition, along with most everything else; so much for upgrading. But anyone who missed this underdog — under-pachyderm? — in previous go-rounds should discover the Disney film that best proves innocence needn’t be animation anathema.
Dumbo: Big Top Edition