Film / Operation: Dumbo Drop

"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:

  • 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!"
    "Nixon is a Republican!"
    "Don't be stupid."
  • Ass Shove: The pills to tranquilize the elephant aren't taken orally.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • Military Alphabet: NATO.
    H.A. (over radio): "Yeah, this is Hotel Alpha, who is this?"
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • Col. Nyugen who forced his lieutenant to shoot the village's first elephant.
    • The jerk pilot of the C-123 Provider, who wanted to shoot Bo Tat when she woke up and started moving around while they were in flight, though her weight moving around was throwing off the balance of the plane, nearly making them crash.
  • Squick: In-Universe—Linh's reaction to Doyle performing the aforementioned Ass Shove: "You weird."
  • The Vietnam War
  • Toilet Humor: The movie kind of ran on it...
  • 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 Denis Leary wincing, then we see the vomit hit the deck.
  • War Is Hell
    Where's his (Linh) parents?
    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.