Common Sense Media says

Sweet Disney classic is still lovely, despite stereotypes.

Users say

(out of 39 reviews)
age 5+
Review this title!
Teen, 15 years old Written byDominicboo1 May 10, 2011

Now I Be Done Seeing About Everything!

Other than one scene where Dumbo drinks champagne that clowns spilled unknowingly, and the scene with Mrs. Jumbo tied up being sad there's nothing to really worry about. As for the crows being a stereotype, I agree it's wrong but children will think they're just animals with funny voices. It has a great message that being different is very fine. For what it's worth the drinking scene will probably make kids think that if they drink they'll have nightmares.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 9 year old Written byerich April 9, 2008

Somewhat outdated but redeemed by important content

In addition to the stereotypical depiction of the "black" crows mentioned in the Common Sense review, there is also a scene of faceless but apparently African American roustabouts setting up the circus in the rain. This scene could be offensive to some. There also is a scene in which Dumbo and Timothy drink alcohol-laced water and get very drunk. The following scene is hallucinogenic and somewhat threatening. (Walt seemed to have a significant interest in hallucination.) My 4 year old loves the drunk/bubble scene; he calls it "when they drink that funny green water," so the alcohol aspect is lost on him at this point. If you have concerns about the stereotyping of women, the elephants are all female and all extremely catty.
Parent of a 3 year old Written byTysMommy November 18, 2009

May not be appropriate for today's audiences.

My son and I really identified with the strong emotional bond between Ms. Jumbo and Dumbo. This movie may be fine for older children who can engage in frank conversations about stereotypes and alcohol use after watching this film...but it's not for the preschool crowd.
Adult Written byMadameChung March 9, 2012

GET THE PICTURE.

I have a correction to make. "Jim" crow is actually voiced by a white man. In today's PC world we might think of those thing as racist... but Walt doesn't live in our time now does he? No he doesn't. The world was DIFFERENT in his time. Oh and the circus workers? The Cirus was in the SOUTH!!! So what would you expect to put up tents? Mexicans?. Since I bet if it had been Mecixans back then had been put in instead people would be crabbing "they don't belong there" now a days.
Parent of a 5 year old Written byrockhottie101@y... January 31, 2012

Horrific film, well done, but horrific!

This movie is HORRIFIC! I don't think kids of any age should watch this movie. The good thing about this one is that it is an anti - circus film, and I am totally against animal circuses because they abuse animals. But there are several things horribly wrong with this movie too. The clowns and trainers are shown getting totally wasted after what they call a great show. Also, it shows some of the trainers with whips, whipping, beating, teasing, and taunting the elephants, just to get them to preform. Plus, the elephant marching scene, seems like someone on drugs or who is drunk would have animated. The scene has several inuendos including the illuminati eye symble, a belly dancing "sexy" elephant, and others. Well done film animation wise, but not really appropriate for really young audiences. I threw a VHS tape version of this away at the daycare I work at. I had to pile trash on top of it, because I know several other workers would ask why I did it and what's so bad about it. My kids are not allowed to watch Dumbo or The Little Mermaid. I want to keep it like that and I encourage more parents, teachers, babysitters, and family members to do the same.
What other families should know
Educational value
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old February 14, 2011

RACIST

im an african american girl and this movie may be cute but i dont like the racism. for example, how the crows acted. did you know the lead crow was named JIM CROW? and, the part where the black people were putting up the circus tent, look up the lyrics.
Kid, 10 years old March 28, 2011

Aweful language!

The s-word is used you know!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Adult Written byLowe's man February 17, 2015

ahead of its time

This movie emphasized respect for and acceptance of those with disabilities and other abnormalities before it became popular or acceptable to do so. The gossippy way in which the other elephants talk, and that they do so right in front of him and his mother, Mrs. Jumbo, represents the way many people viewed disabled people at the time this movie was made (1941). That they were unlikable characters teaches viewers that those who talk derogatorially about those who are different are not to be liked. It was a bit hard to tell if the kids at the circus were being malicious to Dumbo or just curious. Perhaps rightly but perhaps wrongly, Mrs. Jumbo thought that they were being malicious. The protection that she "gave" her son was well-intentioned. When she got violent, however, she got locked up in solitary confinement bacuse she went overboard in the way she showed unconditional love for her son, thereby teaching viewers that violence is not excusable, even when it may seem excusable. Most important was when Dumbo learned to fly. At that point the joke that the circus workers had of making Dumbo a clown backfired on them. At that point the clowns were the joke. To put it another way, the clowns got the last laugh. From that point onward Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo were treated like royalty, being given their own special place on the train. Let's not forget Timothy Mouse, Dumbo's only friend. He didn't care what others thought about him associating with someone who was different. He liked Dumbo just the way he was and for who he was. This movie teaches valuable lessons and is great for everyone. What makes this an especially appropriate choice for preschoolers is that it's not very long. Ideal for attention spans that are just developing. The only potentially iffy thing for young preschoolers is that so many of the people are shown only as shadows most of the time. By age 4, though, they'll be over it. As for the liquor that got accidentally put into the water by the clowns, the alcohol will go over preschoolers' heads. We must also remember that most people back then were not sensitive to the way alcohol was portrayed in movies.
Parent of a 3 and 5 year old Written bymtlteadrinker December 26, 2012

My 3 year old son's favourite movie

This has been my 3 year son's old's favourite movie since he discovered it almost a year ago. He started watching movies and TV at age 2 with his older sister who is now 5. I have read the other reviews... the animal rights, discrimination and drinking/drugs references are all issues he will be educated on in time. He knows when someone is being mean to the animals, but the rest of those issues are way over his head now. It is a bit scary when Mrs. Jumbo is tied up, but my kids both have very low scariness tolerance and are OK with it. (Certain Franklin, Barbie and CareBear scenes are considered scary to them.) At this age, he just loves the animals and the music. He would watch this movie again, and again, and again... Had I discovered this great website before, I would have had more ideas on full-length movies for preschoolers (weekends or holidays only) however I have no issues with them watching this one. (I watched this movie first before showing it to the kids.)
Adult Written bysophalilucie December 14, 2015

Some parts good - some very bad

While there are parts of this film I think are wonderful and extremely well done there are others I don't think are really appropriate. I do think the racist depiction of the crows will go over young childrens' heads but I did notice this being problematic watching it in my early teens so this is probably worth a discussion with older children. They are fun characters however so shouldn't pose too much of an issue with young children. What is problematic for young children is the "Pink elephants on Parade" sequence. I found this terrifying when I was little and would forwardwind this part of the movie until it was over. I was also very scared of clowns when I was little and didn't like the circus scene much ( but also hated being taken to real life circuses) so exercise a little caution here. There are some wonderful moments e.g. the little train huffing and puffing up the hill and the heartbreaking song "Baby mine". While this is a great classic, kids probably shouldnt watch this alone until they are older.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Educator and Parent of a 3 year old Written byAshleyB 4 June 22, 2015

Sweet and Sad

Showed this to my 3 1/2 year old, and asked his thoughts. He said he didn't like it because it was "too sad." Though we had talked, during the movie, about bullying and standing up for your friends when someone is being mean, he didn't remember anything about that afterwards (or wasn't able to articulate, or didn't think it was important). We'll probably stick this one on a shelf til he's a few years older. For the "Pink Elephants" section, I simply told him that Dumbo was having a dream. (Which, he is...an alcohol deranged one, but a dream nonetheless!) I remember watching Dumbo when I was little, and loving it, and also thinking it was sad and scary. The pink elephants can be scary. Pros: The songs are fantastic, the animation delightful, and the message of standing up for a friend who's being bullied is excellent. A word on the roustabouts: Yes, the roustabouts are black. One can read the song as a commentary against both the treatment of minorities and animals. The lyrics are highly ironic: The "happy hearted roustabouts" who "work and laugh" all night are obviously anything but "happy" or laughing. The men and animals work together, and the men further equate themselves with animals, referring to themselves as "hairy apes" (itself a racist term of the time). When you juxtapose the content of the lyrics with the darkness of the setting and music, you see the falseness behind the lyrics, a falseness that adds to the overall condemnation of circus life presented in the film.
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 10 years old March 8, 2014
Well it was sad
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old August 26, 2010

Good movie.

It's a great movie! :) BUT. Beware of the pink elephant scene! It may scare kids a little. It's even spooks ME a little still. O.O Other than that, great film.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Adult Written byAngela33 April 9, 2008
i like it butit's probably old now.
Educator and Parent Written bypolik August 1, 2015

not what I remember

I had to stop this movie early as my 4yro was horrified and confused but couldn't look away while being bullied and getting intoxicated. This wasn't as cute or harmless as I recall and generated a lot of questions from my kids.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bySTRIDER9 April 7, 2013

Dumbo

This is a really good story with an uplifting finale at the end
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byadvocatewhat'sright December 26, 2012

Really parents? You think it's only okay?

This is one of the best Disney has ever done. It's the very first animated movie about being an underdog. This paved the road for: Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure, A Bug's Life, The Sword in the Stone, Ratatouille, Happy Feet, Chicken Little, Cinderella, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Rescuers. Only bad thing is that there's a scene with champagne in it. Plus the Pink Elephants that ensure are scary! Racism my big toe. This movie ain't racist. 5000/5
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byMindymom January 29, 2012

Hate this movie

Am I the only one who hates this movie? I will probably never let my children watch this.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byMissE1000 May 1, 2011

A true classic

Timothy Q. Mouse is a great role model, accepting Dumbo for who he is and helping him. Dumbo is adorable, and I admit to being more than a bit obsessed with Dumbo. Kids may be scared when Mrs. Jumbo gets locked up, but if parents watch the movie with their kids, it's fine. Watching it now and looking back, I realize that the crows represent racism, but at five, I didn't pick up on that (or however old I was when I saw it; my favorite stuffed animal is a Dumbo, and I've had him since I was 6 months old, so I may have been younger). I didn't pick up on Dumbo and Timothy getting drunk either (it was an accident how they did) and I just always thought they were acting silly. A classic, show it to your kids.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 11 year old Written bycheney September 16, 2009

life is

frankly, cheny is scarier.
What other families should know
Educational value

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