Monday, December 16, 2019

You Will Believe an Elephant Can Fly

Awoke to another gloomy, wet day. Raised my spirits considerably with breakfast and Silver Spoons. That family sitcom from the early 80's did two Christmas episodes; I went with the one from the first season. It's "The Best Christmas Ever" for rich kid Ricky Stratton, who is delighted to be spending it with his dad Edward in his mansion. While decorating the tree, a little boy (Matthew Laurence) turns up asking for work. Ricky lets him help out with the tree...and then follows him after he steals their fruit basket. The kid's family now lives in a cave because the father is out of work, but Ricky and Edward find a way to make their holidays merrier.

Threw on the Happy Holidays Vol. 31 CD while I got ready to go. I've had this one for a long time. It was the first CD I ever bought in high school. It was also the first time I ever heard "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt or "Snoopy's Christmas" by the Royal Guardsmen. Other favorites here include "Carol of the Bells" by Kenny Rogers and a lovely "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by Frank Sinatra.

Work wasn't bad when I arrived. I spent most of the morning gathering trash and putting carts away. Things picked up later in the afternoon, to the points where we had relatively long lines by rush hour. We didn't have enough help to deal with them, either, thanks to a call-out. I got stuck in the register for the last half-hour when I was trying to get the sweeping done and never did get to sweeping. I'm just glad I was able to finish the carts beforehand.

At least the weather could have been worse. It sprinkled on and off all day, but the heavy rain held off until I was long at home. I even felt a tiny bit of sleet at one point that once again amounted to nothing. I think we're supposed to get most of the rain tomorrow.

Went straight home as quickly as I could after all the mess at work. Worked on writing when I got in. Nipsey's cousin Queen Isobel refuses to help Gene amass an army against Malade. She doesn't want her to turn on Columbia Eye as well. Bill the enchanted wolf admits he's also a victim of Malade...but his throat closes before he's able to say anything further.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Ate a quick dinner, then started this year's first batch of Christmas cookies. I always make five different kinds of cookies to give to groups and adults who have outgrown toys. Tonight, I made the same Cake Mix Peanut Butter Cookies I sent to Lauren and her parents. The recipe is a simple one-bowl affair that takes no time at all to throw together and bake.

Watched Dumbo while I worked. Dumbo is a calf born to an Asian elephant owned by the failing Medici Brothers Circus. Holt Ferrier (Colin Ferrell) is his rather bitter handler. Once a headlining horseback rider, he returned from World War I missing an arm to discover his wife is dead from Spanish influenza. His children, especially curious and science-loving Millie (Nico Parker), barely know him. They befriend the baby elephant after his unusually massive ears makes him the laughingstock of the circus and forces them to sell his mother Mrs. Jumbo. It's Millie who discovers that Dumbo flies a few feet when he sneezes a feather out of his trunk. It becomes a huge routine with the clowns that makes the little elephant a sensation.

The resulting publicity brings impresario V.A Vandervere (Michael Keaton) to the circus. He ends up buying Medici out and bringing the circus to his Dreamland amusement park at Coney Island. Dumbo ends up flying with Vandervere's most popular aerialist Colette Marchant (Eva Green), who becomes quite fond of the little fellow. Turns out Mrs. Jumbo is also at Dreamland, and her son flies right to her when he realizes it. Vandervere wants her killed, but the members of the circus are determined to reunite mother and child, and make sure that they're never exploited again.

I will say that this is infinitely better than the dull Lion King remake. DiVito and Keaton were fun as the two men with very different ideas of how a circus should work; Eva Green was also quite charming as the lovely Frenchwoman who becomes one of Dumbo's biggest supporters. Lots of allusions to the originals, too, including Millie owning a mouse who looks a great deal like Timothy and the acrobats at Dreamland performing with pink bubbles that closely resembles the "Pink Elephants On Parade" number.

First of all, though, the entire original movie just takes up the first half of this film. The second half feels like filler and the message about animal abuse is forced and preachy. And why did they focus so much on the human characters? Frankly, none of the Ferriers are terribly exciting or interesting, no matter what happened to them during World War I, and they don't really do much with Millie's science bent. Dumbo is barely in his own movie at times.

All in all, better than the Lion King remake, but still not top-drawer Disney. Fine if you're a fan of Tim Burton or have older kids who may enjoy the action.

Finished the night with The Muppets Christmas Carol. I went further into this one at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog last year.

The Muppets Christmas Carol

(Oh, and Lauren got the package from me in the mail tonight. She said she loved the books I sent and had never read any of them, and she and her parents thought their Cake Mix Peanut Butter Cookies were delicious, especially her father.)

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