Wednesday, January 10, 2007


No, OPERATION DUMBO DROP is not a film about Terrell Owens, although the title would certainly be appropriate. Rather, this Disney release is one of the most misguided family flicks to come down the pike since toe-tapping triumphed over goose-stepping in SWING KIDS (yet another Disney misfire). With Walt long gone Mouseschwitz ain't what she used to be.

In this particular case Producers Diane Nabatoff and David Madden, in typical Hollywood copycat fashion, decided to develop a project that would emulate the success of FREE WILLY. After all, why not? Clearly the tale of a whale had proven to be a box office bonanza and so the search was on for some other living leviathan to be cast in a live-action, leading role.

Enter Bo Tat, 8,000 pounds of pulchritudinous pachyderm.

Supposedly "inspired by a true story," OPERATION DUMBO DROP stars Ray Liotta as a Green Beret captain assigned to take over reconnaissance duties at a Montagnard village within spitting distance of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. He is replacing Danny Glover who has blended in well with the Vietnamese culture but is anxious to retire to the life of a roofing contractor back in the states. While both are on a scouting mission a Nestle Crunch candy wrapper is found by a North Vietnamese patrol betraying the Yanks' pressence. The village elephant is shot in retaliation.

Even though the brutal execution of their beloved elephant was carried out by a reluctant North Vietnamese army officer in front of the entire village, blame is angrily placed toward the Americans. With the locals clearly ready to change allegiance, Glover and Liotta take it upon themselves to find a replacement and re-establish the village's tenuous loyality.

Assisting in this daunting task is Denis Leary as the ultimate procurement specialist whose ingenuity marks the film's best moments and Doug E. Doug as a superstitious short-timer.

Two military transport planes, a delapidated boat, one broken-down truck and ninety boring minutes later the climatic ending is reached as Bo Tat is parachuted safely to the village and all ends well.

Directed with precious little energy by Simon Wincer (his PHAR LAP and FREE WILLY are both better movies), the film's strongest points are the pulsating sixties soundtrack, some impressive cinematography by Russell Boyd and the natural beauty of Thailand where filming actually took place. As for the acting, let's just say that Glover and Liotta paint their characters by number, Doug E. Doug thinks he's Buckwheat at age 20 and Denis Leary is as wasted as Timothy Leary.

Save your time and money: there's no need to rent OPERATION DUMBO DROP when you can observe the real thing for free every weekday morning at the Bulverde Middle School.

(For those needing directions, simply follow the trail of Nestle Crunch and other candy wrappers. Bulverde Middle School is just ahead...)