I’m just going to be straight as an arrow here, I haven’t seen the original 1940 classic.
I’ll wait a moment while you pick up your jaw from the floor.
Yes, for some bizarre reason, one of the stepping stones of many a’ child growing up on planet Earth and it flew right past me. Sure, I have watched many a Pinocchio movie, for example, the 1996 re-imagining starring Martin Landau and 90s heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas was my Pinocchio growing up (Someone please put out a Blu-Ray of it?) and also the Spielberg- Kubrick collaboration “A.I – Artificial Intelligence”, one of the best science-fiction movies ever made. Heck, Roberto Benigni made TWO Pinocchio movies!
The point is that you can mold this material and make it fresh and interesting. What makes this malleable is simply the honest, universal view of the story. When you’re growing up, you can look at it one way and as you’re getting older, it reflects into you a different way.
And also, donkeys. Cause who doesn’t love a jackass?
So, when I was in my usual doom-scrolling on Twitter and found out that Disney was remaking it, the only reason why I didn’t scream at the top of my lungs was the pedigree that was behind it. This wasn’t some hack that was going to direct this, it was Robert Zemeckis, quite simply one of the more gifted filmmakers of his generation, his mixture of child-like and grown-up with a sense of clockwork storytelling and obsession with technology gave him a leg up that was hard to resist. If you made “Back to the Future” & “Cast Away”, you get a lifetime pass for me.
Sure, he also made those mo-cap movies which you know…it is what it is, but I thought that with this type of material, it had the potential.
And not only was he directing, he got Tom freakin’ Hanks to collaborate again! My brain was swimming with the possibilities.
So, when this turned out to be one of the worst, most brainless, nipple-twisting horror that I’ve encountered since the live-action remake of “The Lion King”, it hurt. And I soon realized that no matter whom you put on as the captain of the ship in these remakes, you’re standing on the deck of the Titanic about to plow into the corporate DISNEY iceberg, doomed to failure and death.
Let’s look into the positives, first of all, I really dug the Alan Silvestri score. It’s as large, poppy and fun as I expected from him.
Also, some of the supporting cast was shockingly good. In fact, for a brief respite I thought the movie would at least be just mediocre, Keegan-Michael Key as Honest John stole the movie. The sly, bohemian fox with his silent long-suffering companion Gideon put the sole smile on my face throughout the entire two- hour runtime. The animation, the slapstick, it almost works completely.
I enjoyed the subplot of Fabiana played by Kyanne Lamaya and her attempts at making Pinocchio join the rebellion so to speak to dethrone the evil & twisted Señor Stromboli. The way she attempts to calm a freaked-out Pinocchio by way of her puppets is really interesting.
What else did I enjoy? Hmm. The end credits were nice.
I won’t be from here on out.
Let me start by talking about the first 10 minutes of the movie. I could write about these first 10 minutes for another 5 pages, but I promise I’ll be brief. The first 30 seconds of the movie in which Jimmy Cricket voiced by Joseph Gordon Levitt starts to crack jokes around a digital village, something was off. It felt like a PS5 cutscene and nowadays a ton of movies are looking and feeling like one. I don’t like it and that aesthetic goes through the movie. There’s not a sense of verisimilitude, you’re just thinking of the poor, unfortunate animators with carpal tunnel syndrome finishing unreasonable deadlines.
So, Tom Hanks shows up. How’s his Gepetto? Or most importantly, is his accent as bad or worse than “Elvis”?
My only hope is that Chris Pratt doesn’t take notes from this when he plays Mario.
And the character itself is so thinly sketched. They tried to put on some “emotional” touches that fall flat because it’s played so insincerely. Although, I’ll give him credit for at least holding the screen by himself. I would love to be a fly on that wall, watching Hanks play to virtually nothing since everything will be CGIed later.
Which brings me to the clocks.
Gepetto sure loves to build clocks.
We see his collection proudly hanging on his wall.
What follows when the clocks began to chime is quite simply, my version of hell.
Even Alejandro González Iñarritu with his misanthropic worldview would begin to weep.
It’s everything that encompasses why Disney is flatlining critically more than ever. It’s commercial synergy at its absolute worst and if I could, I would hack into the Disney servers and personally remove those scenes (Yes, they do it twice) so that virgin eyes would be shielded from the horror.
Yet the movie keeps on going.
Gepetto goes and builds Pinocchio which looks the same as the animated movie only worse for some reason. The fact that Disney is slavishly not only using the same plot points and design, for the most part it looks grotesque. There’s a reason why something works only for animation because when you put it in the proverbial CGI blender, it looks awful.
I wish Cynthia Erivo was throughout the movie, playing the Blue Fairy. I really enjoyed her performance and she just revives the muppet and disappears. It’s kind of sad. So, after Geppetto realizes his predicament, he decides to let him go to school to learn a thing or two about life.
And here’s another problem, I hate the way Pinocchio is portrayed, there’s not one iota inside of me that truly cares about his journey, even after he gets kicked around and captured and goes through the motions of trying to be a REAL LIFE BOY. He’s way too saintly, People who have seen the original told me the original Pinocchio was kind of a brat, and it makes sense so when the life lessons hit, it has consequences.
Oh, and there’s a scene where Pinocchio stares at animal excrement.
Cause why not?
In the end, this is just a company doing bad karaoke. What’s the point? And I know that this is the movie BUSINESS. But in the end, the original will always stand the test of time.
In short, I didn’t like it.