PINOCCHIO Review; "This Remake Will Crush Longtime Fans And Disappoint Everyone Else"

As part of the Disney+ Day celebrations, Pinocchio is now streaming, but this is one live-action remake that, sadly, should be avoided at all costs. Find out verdict, with some minor spoilers, right here!

Reviews Opinion

“What the f***?!” is not a reaction we expected to have after watching a movie like Pinocchio, but Disney+’s live-action remake screws up in such spectacular fashion that it’s staggering to think this comes from the same studio responsible for Aladdin, Cruella, and The Lion King. Those, and the likes of Dumbo and Lady and the Tramp, have their supporters and detractors in equal measure; many fans love seeing their favourite cartoons brought to life shot for shot, while others feel that it’s redundant to tell these stories again without doing something completely new with them. Over the past few years, Disney has delivered a mixture of both, sometimes even heading down completely unexpected routes such as in Maleficent. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, though, Pinocchio is such a misstep that our noses would be growing if we even thought about recommending it. 

Initially, things start out quite well. Tom Hanks is endearing as Gepetto, living in his small cottage with cuckoo clocks on the wall that relive key moments from movies like Toy Story and Snow White (go corporate synergy!). Soon, The Blue Fairy shows up and brings the latest puppet he’s made to life, and young Benjamin Evan Ainsworth’s take on the wooden boy who wishes to be real is charming and sweetly innocent in equal measure. It’s a joy watching this character come to life on screen and, from there, what follows is a fairly straightforward retelling of the story we all know and love. Unfortunately, it all soon starts going wrong, and not just for Pinocchio after he finds himself in the clutches of the sinister Stromboli.

It’s hard to say whether anyone will care enough to find out what happened, but Pinocchio feels like a movie that was started, but never finished when the decision was made to drop it on streaming. While the story very much remains the same (there’s even a little extra action and excitement during the battle with Monstro to make the finale a little more exciting for today’s kids), massive, pivotal chunks of that are omitted. The Blue Fairy and “Honest” John never appear again after their initial introductions in the movie and, if you’re familiar with the original, you’ll know how key they were to the story upon their respective returns. Instead, this remake finds lazy, unimaginative ways to replace them. Who’d have guessed a big net would be a substitute for a talking fox?

There’s no resolution to at least two major plot threads, one of which is new, while the other is resolved in the cartoon and not here. If you read the Wikipedia entry for that 1940 classic, then be warned that the entire final paragraph is missing, with the movie instead opting to end abruptly with a baffling voiceover from Jimminy Cricket that makes this experience wholly unsatisfying for longtime fans and newcomers alike. The only explanation we can think of is that Disney realised they weren’t going to release Pinocchio theatrically and, rather than spend millions finishing the movie, a simpler way to quickly wrap up the story was cobbled together, saving money on returning actors and special effects in the process. It’s either that or writers Robert Zemeckis (who also directs) and Chris Weitz just went completely off the rails. 

That’s a real shame too because Pinocchio should be a movie that everyone falls in love with. The Blue Fairy is a sight to behold (Cynthia Erivo has an incredible voice), while Luke Evans as The Coachman, Giuseppe Battiston as Stromboli, and Keegan-Michael Key as “Honest” John are among the most enjoyable performances you’ll see this year. Kyanne Lamaya is also excellent as the newly created Fabiana and her marionette Sabina, so we definitely can’t blame the cast for the movie’s shortcomings. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has fun as Jiminy Cricket, though we can’t help but think anyone who has watched South Park will get serious Mr. Hankey vibes from his performance. 

Visually, Pinocchio is a mixed bag with a combination of effects that look like they were perfected for theaters and those that were clearly just deemed good enough for television. There are some great new and returning tunes (props go to Alan Silvestri for those) and the story itself, when it works, remains as timeless as ever. The mind boggles at what went wrong here, with it only making sense that Disney must have decided to cut costs and scrap significant chunks of the story to avoid spending millions more on a movie that, even with those missing elements, probably wouldn’t have driven up subscription numbers to a significant degree. You won’t believe what is missing until you watch it, but again, we can’t suggest you put yourself through that. Just wait for Guillermo del Toro’s Netflix version later this year instead.

We’re not sure how we got here, but yes, Disney just ruined Pinocchio. A movie it appears the studio didn’t bother finishing before dumping it on streaming, this remake will crush longtime fans and disappoint everyone else. Happy Disney+ Day.


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