Pinocchio: review of the live action that Disney could have saved

Pinocchio: review of the live action that Disney could have saved
Pinocchio: review of the live action that Disney could have saved
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It all began in 1940, when Disney brought to the cinema what would later be considered its second animation classic ever, hoping to repeat the success achieved three years earlier with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: we are talking about the famous Pinocchiotransposition of the book by Carlo Collodi The Adventures of Pinocchio – Story of a puppet.

Various factors, not least the outbreak of the war, resulted in poor box office success, despite the fact that the film managed to bring home two Oscar for the musical part. Pinocchio it had a revaluation then over the years, between cinematic and home video repropositions, rightfully taking its place in Disney’s iconography where its characters have never been lacking. He was therefore not surprised that this film also ended up in the viewfinder of that trend that the house of Mickey Mouse has been taking for some time: that of live action.

The works started in 2015 and in 2020 the helm of the film was entrusted to a real top player in the direction, that Robert Zemeckis that already with Who framed Roger Rabbit it was pioneer of that type of film that combines live action parts with elements of animation. What better name to accomplish the same thing on a major title like the remake of the 1940 Disney classic?

The easy victory, however, is never taken for granted, indeed with the Walt Disney of the last period it is now difficult to hypothesize what can be appreciated and what not. This film, released directly in streaming on September 8 on Disney + it was not, with very low ratings on the main aggregators of film reviews which showed the idea of ​​a fundamentally useless product, which could be done without. Now, I will not deny that the main controversies that have been about this product have been those, very similar to what is happening these days on The Little Mermaid live actionwho saw in the center a black character, the very talented actress Cynthia Erivo, playing a character who is completely different in the title that inspired him. I find, however, really misleading to judge the film from these controversies given that the presence of the Blue Fairy played by Erivo was little more than a nice, very short-lived cameo.

The film deserves all the criticism negative had in my humble opinion, but not certainly for this and others interpretations by black actors (like the puppeteer Fabiana played by Kyanne Lamay), but for quite other factors.


The film does not stand up to the comparison with the magic of the animated classic to which it refers (not to mention the novel by Collodi) and this while counting on the umpteenth excellent actor’s proof of a Tom Hanks who, despite an embarrassing make-up and wig, succeeds in the difficult task of making her Geppetto credible. Actor and director, on the other hand, had already collaborated together on blockbusters of the caliber of Forrest Gump (1994) and Cast away (2000), although the poor here Hanks had to work on a script that to say uninspired means being lenient, and with a side of embarrassing choices and CG which in 2022 makes you smile rather for its ugliness.

Let’s be clear, the original story of Collodi she was already betrayed in the 1940 film, where the writers certainly wanted to write an entertainment film, but one that preserved the spirit of the original story, with an anti-hero and short-tempered character, many villains and very few happy or comic moments. It was the same Walt Disney to demand instead a trivialization more for the use and consumption of the under-age spectator with stars and stripes with a Pinocchio even more graphically puppet and typically cartoonish. The live action even manages to trivialize the animated film even more, with laughable choices and forcing, and with an eyesore to create a puppet in CG similar to the animated original, which looks totally out of place and unglued with the live action part in which he has to act: “cringe“the younger ones would say today.

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What this film wants to show us is that Pinocchio is fundamentally a good son, naive and easy going but basically a victim of the greed of others and of what can represent being a phenomenal “wireless puppet”.
In this way, that true growth and maturation is lost, that acquisition of consciousness that is part of the DNA of our character’s adventures. Everything is trivialized in an almost irritating way, from the lengthening of the nose when lies are told, which here almost seems to be a very positive super power, to the poor Jiminy Cricket who seeks its own functionality to the story throughout the film, to get to the whale that here it becomes a ridiculous video game monster. The peak of trash can be reached towards the end, with Pinocchio “outboard” version that makes us understand all the limits of this film that fails to make itself credible either as a live action or even as a cartoon version friendly of collodian inspiration. The novelties inserted within the story are of no use, indeed they only serve to worsen everything. Suffice it to see the Land of Toys which, between a shaky CG from Asylum films and a great variety-style chaos, gets to the point of almost making a crossover with the Korean horror series Hellbound …

And we want to talk about the musical part? Always the flagship of most Disney productions? Well this film manages to make even the musical scenes trivial and boring: flatly choreographed, they give the impression of having been inserted there out of obligation (after all, this is a Disney movie) rather than to add more joy and wonder to the film so as to make the known and the new ones forgettable at the same time!
And the ending? Why can’t we see the poor protagonist make his wish come true?

Pinocchio does not have to turn into a ‘real’ boy in flesh and blood. It is real in that he has learned his lessons and developed a conscience, but it doesn’t need to end in a so to speak physical way to prove it. ” says the co-writer Chris Weitzto justify a choice that seems only an excuse to say “Hey, it’s not a carbon copy of the animated movie. Look how we make modern choices!“and seems to want to testify to this ending which is however not very convincing since in reality the growth of the character is not really seen or perceived.

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I am not a person profoundly opposed to this type of operation, I must admit that titles like “The beauty and the Beast“and” Dumbo “I also liked, especially the second one that vividly felt the authorial touch of a director like Tim Burton. This Pinocchio, on the other hand, is simply a mediocre film and soulless, and certainly not enough the nice scene of the watches which is nothing more than a series of tributes to the Disney universe and to the same cinematography of Zemeckis.
We are faced with a title that lacks precisely in what should be its peculiarity, or in the mix of animation and live-action that is completely out of phase giving a terrible feeling of posticcio starting from the main character.

My advice to those who haven’t seen the movie yet?
Before the end of the year, Guillermo del Toro will give his own interpretation of the story in a version that uses thumbnails and animation in stop-motion and sets the story against the backdrop of fascist Italy: wait for that!

The article is in Italian

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