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New Pinocchio Movie Is A Mixed Bag


Yesterday the latest Disney live action remake, Pinocchio (2022) dropped on Disney+. This is one that I was actually fairly excited for because of the talent in front of and behind the camera with Robert Zemeckis directing and starring Tom Hanks and several other familiar faces. But is this movie good? Is this movie as bland as the critics made it out to be? Let’s get started!


NOTE: As a point of reference I haven’t seen the original Pinocchio (1940) at all and I don’t really know the story. So I went into this movie without much pretense on that front. So I have heard several changes to the story were made. Obviously I didn’t catch those so that might factor into my thoughts on this movie. 


The Good:


And the best thing about this movie is that it has a great cast and everybody here does a great job. Obviously, when you have somebody like Tom Hanks in the lead who is a Hollywood legend who can just bring this gravtose to the whole thing, he elevates the material. And since he’s been in the business for decades at this point he knows how to carry a movie. Another stand-out would be Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket who narrates the entire story and just brings this fun energy to the whole thing. And Gordon-Levitt is so good that at several points in time I forgot that it was him in the role, he changed his voice just enough to make it feel like a different person. Luke Evans had a small part in the back half of the movie as The Coachman. He was great. I like him as an actor with the screen presents that he brings. And then you have Benjamin Evan Anisworth as Pinocchio who is very fun and charming in the title role. 

Also whenever they take a non-human character from a Disney animated movie and convert it into a live action movie I’m always very curious as to how it would look. And I was worried that with Pinocchio they would make it look creepy and weird, but I liked the design of the character. It felt very true to the original, it looked good. As a matter of fact when it comes to the visual effects I think that Pinocchio was the best looking part of this movie. 


Lastly, some of the songs and the score for the movie are quite good. The score is by Alan Silvestri, frequent collaborator with Robert Zemeckis and that mixed with the songs of the original movie just provide some solid pieces of music. 


The Bad:


And the big thing here is that I think that the central story here is just very distasteful. Even though Pinocchio isn’t a real boy he is still a kid, he’s a child in this movie. And the way that the adults in this movie are treating him is really really distasteful. I mean Keegan-Michael Key’s character, Honest John, is manipulating him multiple times in the movie. Later he used to make money as a showman. And since Pinocchio is so naive and doesn’t understand this they are manipulating him. But even in the back half of the movie with The Coachman and the donkeys it kind of turns into a child abuse at a certian point in time. It’s creepy the way it shows things. And maybe they could have gotten away with that sort of thing in 1940, 80 years ago. But in the modern era it just doesn’t sit right with you. I know that they probably didn’t want to change the story because otherwise people are going to hate them for it. But I think adapting that original movie into a live action remake in 2022 just doesn’t work. And with this movie it’s a prime example of that of a Disney movie that shouldn’t be remade. 


Also I found the visuals and production design to be very very off. Some of it looks great, like I said the character of Pinocchio’s design and look is really good. The other stuff in the movie is very hit or miss for me. Where in the finale most of it looks like Tom Hanks is on a green screen, some of it really doesn’t look good. And at other points it looks like they CGI’d certain characters such as Honest John just looks way to fake. I know they couldn’t get an actual fox to sing, talk, and walk like a human but it just looks fake. Like it felt too animated, it looked like they tried too hard to make it real and it just didn’t come off that way to me. It looked like something off of a tv show rather than a big budgeted Disney movie like this one. 


Another thing with this movie that really didn’t work for me is some of the humor was really off putting. There are two jokes in the first half of the movie that I’m surprised Disney let them put in a family movie. I feel like most adults or older kids might catch these jokes in the movie and I was surprised that they got put in a Disney family movie. If this wasn’t a Disney movie or a kids movie for that matter, I wouldn’t mind but they feel out of place inside of the Disney canon. 


And sections of this movie just felt overly long and stretched out. Like the opening 20 minutes of the movie we are at Gepatto’s house going around the house showing his clocks, showing him making Pinocchio, and him spending time with Pinocchio. Then we spend 10-20 minutes with Pinocchio trying to get to school. Then he joins a puppet show, then gets wrapped up with The Coachman and goes to Pleasure Island. And then we have the finale with the whale. But all of those sequences just feel over long and stretched out. It felt like they wrote the first draft of the script and realized that it was only 1 hour and 20 minutes long, so they added more to each scene too and it just felt dragged out. 


Finally, this movie has a few easter eggs and meta humor that I just don’t think worked in this movie. Especially in Gepatto’s house in the first 20 minutes of the movie and you see his cuckoo clocks there are some pretty blatant easter eggs there. But even in the movie they make a Chris Pine joke, that did make me chuckle. But since there wasn’t enough meta humor in the entire movie, that one joke felt out of place. Maybe if there was more of it, it could have worked better. But as it is only one joke I just don’t think it worked all that well. 


Final Thoughts: In general I wanted Pinocchio (2022) to be another solid hit for Disney. With Robert Zemeckis who gave us Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and The Polar Express and a re-team between him and Tom Hanks, who is my favorite actor of all time. But this was a lifeless remake that didn’t have any of the same magic or charm as other live action remakes did. So while it had some solid elements in it, the movie as a whole just didn’t work for me. 


The Score: 7.3/10 (C)

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New Pinocchio Movie Is A Mixed Bag