Operation Dumbo Drop

Movie review by
Polly M. Robertus, Common Sense Media
Operation Dumbo Drop Movie Poster Image
A harmless, if mostly charmless, movie.
  • PG
  • 1995
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

Not yet rated

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages
Violence

A fist fight between American soldiers. Plenty of shooting, but results are more implied then explicit. Soldiers toss a grenade into a tent to frighten a fellow soldier.

Sex

An allusion to one character's affair with a general's wife.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie depicts a fist fight between American soldiers. There's also plenty of shooting, but results are more implied then explicit. An appreciation for indigenous culture and the beauty of Vietnam are major themes.

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What's the story?

In OPERATION DUMBO DROP, mischief-maker Captain Cahill (Danny Glover) and strait-laced Doyle (Ray Liotta), together with two inept soldiers and a crafty requisitions officer, are ordered to replace a village elephant. When one is found, they begin their mission accompanied by the elephant's handler, the orphaned Vietnamese Linh. The group travels by air, water, and land, trailed by the North Vietnamese Army and plagued by their own interpersonal skirmishes. When they must drop the elephant into a village under attack, the mission comes to a thrilling end, with an elephant free fall and daring rescue.

Is it any good?

Operation Dumbo Drop works too hard to be racially and culturally sensitive while doling out plenty of comedy, action, and gross-out chuckles, including one scene involving elephant depositories. Kids won't learn much history, but the movie is based, however loosely, on an actual incident. Comic scenes are sometimes pointless and others rely on the bodily functions of elephants. The threat of combat is less frightening than the dangers posed by infighting among the Americans and air travel with an elephant. The movie bends over so far backwards to avoid glorifying the war that it risks trivializing it.

The tender bond between elephant Bo Tat and Linh, and Cahill's humble and knowledgeable appreciation of Vietnam and its people are positive elements in an otherwise mediocre movie. Parents may want to articulate thematic material that kids might miss, such as Cahill's reasons for going by the book. A bright 10-year-old (who fidgeted during the slow sequences) didn't make the connection between the enemy's refusal to shoot the elephant and a myth Linh earlier related.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's more subtle themes, such as Cahill's reasons for going by the book, or the connection between the enemy's refusal to shoot the elephant and a myth Linh earlier related.

Movie details

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