This review for the Disney+ movie Pinocchio (2022) contains no spoilers or significant plot points.
We all knew it was coming. A new take on our favorite early puppet to be embraced by modern technology and a younger generation. So who better to bring a new Pinocchio on screen as the team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis, who somehow made the scariest animated film for kids, The Polar Express, into a new modern holiday classic? I’m relieved that the latest version works, for the most part. However, the wonderful themes of the original never go as deep as Monstro’s underbelly, and the revised ending takes away effective poignancy.
The story largely follows the same path as the original film. Jiminy Cricket (voiced by an authentic Joseph Gordon-Levitt) takes refuge in a local store in a snowy Italian town. The owner is Geppetto (Tom Hanks), a renowned watchmaker so talented that he makes his wonderful creations but refuses to sell them to the public. (Be sure to keep an eye out for Easter eggs here, with several beloved Disney and Pixar characters popping out of their cuckoo clocks). He does not speak to himself but to his makeshift family.
This is the most adorable and lively feline you’ve ever seen, Figaro. A small fish that likes to come to the surface of its bowl to have its belly rubbed, Cleo. Of course, his absolute pride and joy is a hand-sculpted puppet, Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth). As they settle in for the night, Jiminy watches the older man go to bed, saying a prayer to the wishing star. what was that? For Pinocchio to become a real living boy, of course. Once he comes to life, the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) arrives. She sings the song we all know by heart and unravels our boy’s strings. She anoints Jiminy to be her conscience and Geppetto wakes up with the surprise of his life.
Zemeckis, who co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Weitz, directed a version of Pinocchio it’s a great magical adventure that the family will eventually enjoy, maybe even love. However, Disney’s original 1940 classic is second to none, not only because there’s no substitute for classic hand-drawn animation and the wonder it elicits from the digital age. (although the special effects here are spectacular). There’s something clunky about the way Zemeckis’ film is put together and the transitions, especially how and when the kids transfer to Pleasure Island. Believe me, after that scene you imagine that’s largely what the row of skids looked like in its heyday, even if it gives off a nice Roald Dahl quality.
Pinocchio suffers from underdeveloped villains. While I enjoyed Keegan-Michael Key’s Honest John, Stromboli (Giuseppe Battiston) and The Coachman (Luke Evans) needed additional dark escapades to enhance Pinocchio’s journey. This last character is taken directly from the original Italian source, Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio. Improving this character would have deepened the traditional themes of human conditioning that this classic is known for. Or even a metaphor for a child’s journey through social development as our hollowed-out friend learns what it’s like to be the kind of human he wants to be.
They changed the ending of the original film. I’m okay with that, but it takes away that emotional impact the script badly needed. I would like to say that this change has been made evident because of our modern times. Teaching children to accept those who are different from us. by Pinocchio The journey was about the kind of human the young boy wanted to be. While different from the rest, the ending offers a modern component of accepting our differences, and family is what you make it. However, the money-hungry mouse has dollar signs in its eyes. (Hey, you have to make Minnie happy, right?). And I’m fully confident that this was done for potential sequels on their streaming platform.
Scenes with monsters and glowing eyes can be scary for real little kids, especially with Pinocchio is debuting on Disney+ and not in theaters. However, while I’m tough on the movie, Zemeckis pinpoints the magical quality that Disney is known for. This film will satisfy kids and parents alike with delightful animation, catchy musical numbers, beautiful production design, and a finale that satisfies the adventure component of the source material.
But not as much as he could have.
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