Making the Grades
It's the middle of the Vietnam War and as a punishment for protecting Americans, the Viet Cong kill a village elephant. Feeling the loss of the elephant was their fault, the American soldiers decide that the animal must be replaced. The next two hours of the movie tell us just how this will be done.
In this kind of movie, "based on a true story" means that somewhere during that war an elephant was killed, and probably somewhere during that war, the U.S. was obligated to replace an elephant. But somehow, I wonder if movies like Operation Dumbo Drop don't act as a way to trivialize a serious situation -- the Vietnam War -- and twist fact into fiction to the point where a disservice is being done to those that had to fight in this horrible circumstance.
Mixing comedy with the deadly facts of war is always dangerous. M*A*S*H* is a rare example of how the horrors of war can be alleviated with some levity, but the serious nature of the situation is still present. In this movie, nothing is serious, yet people are shooting at each other, bombs are dropping, and kids viewing it will be cheering for the elephant.
Another problem is squeezing this war into a Disney movie mould. There must have been an approved list of three profanities as they are used repeatedly. Violence is downplayed so the heartwarming story isn't buried in blood and gore, and there is even the odd sexual innuendo that just doesn't seem to fit with what this movie is trying to do or say.
The video box sells Dumbo Drop as a laughfest from start to finish. Maybe I'm just too serious, but placing this story in the Vietnam War just isn't funny. Movies like this exist to sell tickets and chocolate bars (you can't miss the Nestle Crunch bar) at the expense of those who fought. Please, if you rent this, watch it with your children, and fill them in on the facts.