All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from ‘Dumbo’

All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from ‘Dumbo’

Written by: Andrea Angileri

One of my daughter’s favorites at the present moment is 1941 Disney flick ‘Dumbo’.  One of my childhood faves, it’s not hard to see why.  Here are some lessons to learn from ‘Dumbo’.  Disclaimer: Obviously the images are all from Google and even more obvious the list will go from sentimental to sarcastic humor.

  1.  It’s Not All About Being a Princess.  Dumbo is not about being a princess or being in love or meeting Mr. Right.  It gets away from that, which is just fine for little girls.  It’s about learning to love and embrace what is different from you and learn to let it work for you.


  1. We’re All Different and That’s O.K.  If you replace Dumbo as a child with special needs you will instantly begin to tear up.  Here is an elephant who just happens to be born into a circus family.  He didn’t ask for it.  On top of this, he has these HUGE ears.  I’m pretty sure that if I was born into a circus family I would be just as effective as an elephant with big ears too.  The movie teaches that if you are born different, you will probably get teased, but if you hold on you will find your ‘hidden’ talent.
  1. Babies Come From Storks.  END OF STORY!


  1. Your Best Friend Should be Your Strongest Supporter.  Mice make good friends…and even better agents.   Timothy the mouse was an awesome friend to Dumbo, always encouraging him.  He was an even better agent, the scene where he goes into the circus leaders sleeping tent to whisper ideas into his head is above and beyond typical agent work.  Timothy works it for true friendship and his 20% cut.


  1. Stay Away From Clowns. Clowns spike their booze with hallucinating drugs.  Timothy the mouse and Dumbo accidentally slurp up some water tainted with clown booze and soon see pink elephants in their bubbles that will blend to plaid and other trippy images.  This scene will be chopped and edited to reuse in Winnie the Pooh later.  Timothy and Dumbo end up in a tree after all the shenanigans of the night, also proving that mice and elephant can’t handle their hallucinating drug tainted booze.


  1. A Mother’s Love Overrules All.  Dumbo’s mom was the best.  She very quickly embraced Dumbo, wrapped him up in his big ears, and didn’t take any sh*t from the other lady elephants.  Her temper would eventually land her in jail in the saddest ‘Baby Mine’ rendition ever. Image
  1. Sometimes Parents are Separated from their Young.  Again, the saddest scene from Dumbo is the jail scene with Dumbo and his mom.  It was the first blatant cartoon moment that I remember seeing a mother being incarcerated.  Disney doesn’t let up with the absent mother theme, which is why I was in tears only 5 minutes into ‘Finding Nemo’.  For some children, a temporary or permanent loss of a parent is a very real thing.Image
  1. Pick Mates that Complement You.   Every shy kid needs a loud and bossy friend.  Timothy the mouse was a very ‘up in your face’ kind of character.  Though he was the smallest creature in the film, representing something that elephants are afraid of, he really was the ‘voice’ for Dumbo.  He proves that shy big eared elephant kids shouldn’t be afraid of their little bossy mousy friends.  Image
  1. Jazz really gets you movingImage I’m still not sure if representing a black jazz band as crows is not the most racist idea ever, but we must remember that this movie was set in the early 40’s.  The ‘When I See an Elephant Fly’ tune is extremely catchy.Image

10. Don’t Use Booze or Magic or anything else as a Crutch.  Dumbo and Timothy might  have thought the power of booze got them to fly.  Dumbo later held onto this black feather thinking   Image             that it had special powers.  They only needed to rely on Dumbo’s natural talents.flying Dumbo


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