Smoothie reviews the new remake of Disney’s 1940 animated classic.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt less inspired to put the time and effort into a reviewing a film than I do right now. After all, if the filmmakers couldn’t be bothered, why should I?
Pinocchio is bad. The worst kind of bad.
This isn’t a situation where a film fails because of passionate filmmakers being cursed with limited time, limited resources or limited talent.
I don’t know that I would feel comfortable being so blatantly harsh towards any movie made under those circumstances.
But this is a film directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, adapting a beloved classic whilst wielding the limitless chequebook of the Walt Disney Corporation.
There’s no excuse.
Pinocchio is almost beat for beat the exact same story as the 1940 classic with one major change that we might discuss later if I get angry enough to abandon the idea of a spoiler free review.
We begin with lonely craftsman, Geppetto (Tom Hanks, because, of course) finishing his latest creation; a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. After he’s magically brought to life in the dead of night, the innocent Pinocchio soon finds himself on an adventure where he’s exposed to the full cruelty of the world and learns what it takes to be a “real boy.”
This is a movie where “live action” apparently means Tom Hanks playing with pretend toys in front of a green screen for an hour and half. The frame is absolutely flooded with ugly CGI at all times.
The only effort exerted on this film was in service of importing as many recognisable elements from the original as possible. Plus, smearing the requisite Disney-branded meta commentary over everything in sight.
At no point did anyone ask themselves why these elements were there in the first place. Nor did they consider how some well thought out changes might have actually improved the story, especially given the change of format.
To illustrate this properly I think we might actually have to talk about the one, very poorly thought out change they did make.
So for those averse to spoilers, consider this your jumping off point. I’ll sum up by saying that Pinocchio is bad and you shouldn’t waste your time on it. I know it’s school holidays and the kids have to watch something, but c’mon, you’ve got Disney Plus. Watch Turning Red again. It’s wonderful!
Everyone else good to talk about the ending now?
Pinocchio doesn’t become a real boy in this version. He remains a living wooden puppet. The lesson is supposed to be that Pinocchio was always perfect the way he was and that it was wrong for Geppetto to expect him to be something he wasn’t.
And this would have been fine if the damn story was about Geppetto!
The very start and very end of this movie pretend that this is the case, but it’s not. If it was, we wouldn’t have spent the majority of the runtime replaying every chapter of the 1940 classic.
These scenes served a purpose in that version. Pinocchio had to learn about deceit, greed, peer pressure and responsibility in order to understand what it means to be human. The original ending tests Pinocchio. He must prove his selflessness to earn his humanity.
The fact that Geppetto was the one that grows in this movie, not Pinocchio, means that this was all a waste of time.
Don’t get me wrong, the idea of making this movie about Geppetto is a good idea. It’s a new perspective that could actually justify making this film in the first place.
But you can’t just tac that on the end after doing everything in your power to make the exact same movie.
I have this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that this new ending was designed to be bad. That maybe the intended experience was to offer cheap nostalgia that leaves the audience agreeing it’s “not as good as the original.”
Maybe Pinocchio was a sacrificial lamb to keep a classic strong in the minds of fans, ensuring they can continue to cash in off an eighty-year-old movie for decades to come.
Wouldn’t that just be the pinnacle of cynical, lazy, manipulative, corporate cinema?
But they wouldn’t do that, would they? Surely not! Not Disney!
Pinocchio is now streaming on Disney+.
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