Film / Operation: Dumbo Drop

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"I should be on a top secret mission with crack commandos, but instead I'm in an episode of McHale's Navy starring Dumbo, Mr. French, and The Three Stooges!"
Captain T.C. Doyle

Operation Dumbo Drop is a 1995 Disney live-action film set during the Vietnam war. In it, Capt. T.C. Doyle (Ray Liotta), a hard-nosed Green Beret, is assigned to a local village to keep watch on the Ho Chi Minh trail. There he meets up with with Capt. Sam Cahill (Danny Glover). While the two are out scouting the trail, the Vietcong raid the village, discovering a chocolate bar wrapper, meaning the villagers were harboring American troops. As punishment, they shoot their prized elephant.

Feeling responsible for their loss, Cahill promises to get them a new one, a move that Doyle vehemently opposes. Despite his protests the operation is approved and Doyle is placed in charge. They set about gathering their team, comprising of two soldiers, a requisitions officer, an elephant and the boy who handles the elephant, Linh.

Along the way, the V.C.s are tipped off about what they are doing and, in an effort to keep them from keeping their word, set out to stop them. This begins a chase through the deep, green jungles of South Vietnam, which ends when they find the only way they can get the elephant to the village — is up.


This film contains examples of:

  • Abandon Ship: Everyone has to bail out of the plane when it suffers engine damage.
  • A Boy and his Elephant: Linh and Bo Tat.
  • American Political System: V.C.'s wondering why American troops are transporting an elephant:
    "I've got it! The elephant is a symbol of the American Republican party!"
    "So?"
    "Nixon is a Republican!"
    "Don't be stupid."
  • Arc Words:
    Linh: Everything number one, A-OK.
  • Ass Shove: The pills to tranquilize the elephant aren't taken orally.
  • A-Team Montage: The Squad prepping for the final leg of the mission.
  • Bad Butt: Pretty much everybody. The setting of the Vietnam War combined with the fact that this was a Disney movie lead to a lot of fights in which the soldiers shoot their guns into the air to distract the Vietcong, then incapacitate them with judo throws.
  • Big Damn Heroes: H.A. saving the team from the Vietcong at the end.
  • Blackmail: How Cahill gets Poole to come along. See below.
  • Black Guy Dies First: H.A. is scared shitless he's gonna die, especially as he's a "short-timer" (see Retirony below) and so very close to making it out of the war alive. He survives the whole movie.
  • Brick Joke: Courtesy of the aforementioned tranq pills:
    Doyle: "Poole! Any more of that water buffalo tranquilizer?"
    Poole: "You really enjoyed that, didn't you, Doyle?"
    Doyle: (Head Desk)
    Poole: "Linh was right. You are weird."
  • By-the-Book Cop: Doyle is a by-the-book Green Beret. He and Cahill get into a brief fight over Just Following Orders.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Lt. Quang
  • Chekhov's Lecture: Linh teaches Farley the basic commands for Bo Tat. He ends up using them—or, at least, he tries to, with less-than-ideal results.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster depicts an African elephant in camouflage depicted as going to war. The movie is about the delivery of an Asian elephant.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Deconstructed with Linh. At first, being an orphan seems like the simple reason he gets to go on all sorts of exciting adventures with the team. Then it's revealed he had to watch his father get shot in front of his eyes.
  • Cuddle Bug:
    Linh: Linh like hug. Hug good.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The objective is to get the elephant to the village. How they do that...
  • Double Agent: Goddard, a Frenchman who keeps portraits of Lyndon B Johnson and Ho Chi Minh in a double-sided pictureframe.
    Goddard: What can I say? I love everybody.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: On the river, H.A. nearly drops a marking shell on the boat he's riding in. The V.C. laugh...until they realize that their boat is moving right into the spot H.A. just marked.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • The General's Daughter: Actually, Poole just thought she was his daughter. Turned out to be his wife.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Linh: You want good luck, you touch Bo Tat.
    H.A.: Yeah, right.
    (cut to H.A. walking with his hand on Bo Tat)
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: The Vietcong soldiers, although their problem isn't the uniform.
    Cahill: They try to blend in, but they all got the same damn haircut.
  • Honor Before Reason: Upon learning that the mission's been scrubbed, The Squad decide that they needs to finish what they started.
  • Immune to Bullets: Averted with the village's first elephant, but played straight in Bo Tat's backstory. She still carries scars from the bullets.
  • Instant Sedation: It actually takes a minute or two for the tranq pills to take effect, but they do worry about Bo Tat conking out before she gets on the plane, in which case they're screwed.
  • It's Raining Men: Five soldiers, one kid, and an elephant.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Attempted, but failed.
    Linh: They hit Linh this many times. (holds up ten fingers)
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Poole. He really does care about others, but he doesn't want anybody knowing.
  • Military Alphabet: NATO.
    H.A. (over radio): "Yeah, this is Hotel Alpha, who is this?"
  • A Minor Kidroduction: We first see Linh as a noticeably younger kid than he is in the rest of the movie.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: after hearing that their mission has been cancelled, Cahill decides to steal a vehicle and deliver Linh and Bo Tat anyway. Doyle stops him... to suggest they take a plane instead. Poole's down with it, as are Farley and H.A. A Lock and Load Montage ensues.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mention is made of General "Kill 'em all and let God sort it out" Richardson.
  • Omniglot: Cahill can speak French and several Vietnamese native tongues.
  • Operation: [Blank]
  • Parachute in a Tree: H.A. after everyone else lands safely. Helps set up his Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Pet the Dog: The bad guys get Bo Tat in their gunsights... and do not fire. The call not to fire was made by Lt. Quang, who was ordered to shoot the first elephant but never wanted to.
    Lt. Quang: I did not join this army to shoot elephants, especially ones that fly.
  • Retirony: Lampshaded with H.A. who's a short-timer about to go home, and certain he's going to bite the big one right before he does, but ultimately averted. Cahill is also on his last tour.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: A straight example found in the hot-headed Doyle and the much-calmer Cahill.
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors: Cahill and Doyle use a variation to decide things like who's in charge of the op, or who gets to shove tranq pills up Bo Tat's ass.
  • Rule of Funny
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The reason they wind up dropping the elephant out of a plane.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After the flatbed truck breaks down, Poole, fed up, tries to walk out on the rest of them.
  • Shoot the Elephant:
  • Squick: In-Universe—Linh's reaction to Doyle performing the aforementioned Ass Shove: "You weird."
  • Tempting Fate: After Farley accidentally crushes the second tranq pill, Poole figures the first one will still last another hour—and then Bo Tat's trunk starts moving.
    Poole: I, ah...I was using the metric system.
  • Third-Person Person: Linh talks this way a lot, as his command of English is sketchy.
  • Toilet Humor: The movie kind of ran on it...
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Nothing that these guys do ever goes according to plan.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Twice, first after Doyle gets off of a hair-raising Helicopter ride, and then when Bo Tat gets seasick during the river chase.
    • Actually, the second one is averted slightly. We see Bo Tat open her mouth, then a cutaway, then a massive wave of vomit, then another cutaway to Poole wincing, then we see the vomit hit the deck.
  • War Is Hell
    Where's his (Linh) parents?
    Dead.
    In the war?
    No. Killed by falling star. Yes, in war.
    Which side?
    It matter?
  • We Help the Helpless: Linh and Bo Tat go to help some villagers pull a massive stump out of the ground. In return they get use of their 16-foot flatbed truck.
  • Worthy Opponent: Nguyen congratulates our heroes for getting Bo Tat to Dak Neh, even though he doesn't plan to spare their lives.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/OperationDumboDrop