Once upon a time, Walt Disney Studios would re-release its animated classics roughly once a decade, operating under the theory that a new generation of kids would keep coming along who hadn’t seen Pinocchio, Snow White, Bambi, and the like. These days, with all of those movies available on DVD and Blu-ray, Disney’s new plan seems to be to remake all of its best-loved cartoons—and in live-action no less. The box-office success of the recent Alice In Wonderland and Maleficent has given Disney the confidence to proceed with new versions of Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty And The Beast, and—according to today’s reports—Dumbo.
The Hollywood Reporter says that Disney has hired Transformers screenwriter Ehren Kruger to co-produce and write the script for a live-action Dumbo remake. If the new Dumbo follows form with Disney’s other live-action remakes, it’ll layer in new characters and story elements—which would almost be a necessity in Dumbo’s case, given that the original is barely an hour long, with much of that running time taken up by songs.
Then again, much of the charm of Dumbo is that it’s so short and so simple. In telling the story of a baby circus elephant with comically oversized ears, Dumbo punches all of the classic Disney buttons, dealing with the parent/child bond, the reinvention of an underestimated individual, and the formation of a community of outsiders. If Kruger and company can stick with what’s worked so well for audiences young and old since Dumbo’s 1941 debut, maybe this new version won’t be so awful. (But I’ll believe that can happen when I see an elephant fly.)