Operation Dumbo Drop

A harmless, if mostly charmless, movie.
  • Review Date: October 8, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 108 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

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.


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

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:July 28, 1995
DVD release date:November 5, 1996
Cast:Danny Glover, Doug E. Doug, Ray Liotta
Director:Simon Wincer
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Topics:Adventures, Wild animals
Run time:108 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:war action and language.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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