Pinocchio is the next Disney Classic to get a live action version and as part of Disney+ Day it is available to stream now on Disney+
The familiar plot remains, Geppetto (Tom Hanks) is a lonely clockmaker and sometimes puppeteer who wishes for a son above all things.
One magical night, the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) answers his wish and bestows the gift of life on the puppet Pinocchio.
But life isn’t enough, Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), in his naivete, wants to be “real” for his father.
The Blue Fairy christens Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon Levitt) as his conscience to guide him into civilized boyhood.
Disney’s 1940 original is brutal. Its menacing villains and high stakes make Pinocchio’s punishments violent and threatening. This is because the morals being posed are equally rigid and severe.
Where the original feels overly didactic and moralizing, Director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future/Forest Gump/Who Framed Roger Rabbit) takes the opportunity to lighten the danger and present new visuals and ethics better suited for today’s audiences.
Zemeckis has once again successfully conducted a production that sees CGI and human actors interact as if everything were alive. Zemeckis has retold Pinocchio in a way that shows why the classic deserved to be remade.
Its visual style brings the fairy tale alive with depth and texture, while it’s ending effectively shows that boyhood doesn’t need to come as a result ofcorporal punishment—that magical transformation doesn’t have to always be physical—and it doesn’t always have to be the child’s responsibility to change.
Tom Hanks is solid, the opening minutes with Geppetto more or less alone in his workshop, wishing for a little boy, are a profound and heart-breaking character study.
Hanks transfers all the emotion of Geppetto’s new backstory into the lifeless puppet and us, the silent audience, animating both into an adventure.
Though later scenes require more cartoonish aspects of his character, Hanks never lets us forget that Geppetto is human.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Is the Robert Zemeckis film that this most reminds me of.
With its complex worlds composed of humans, animate objects, talking animals and faeries, a live-action adaptation of Pinocchio requires a hybrid approach to filmmaking technology.
The material seems tailor-made to Zemeckis’ expertise, and he flexes those skills with gusto.
My Rating: 8/10