Any fans of my writing know I am not the biggest fan of the Disney live action remakes. There are a few I like such as Pete’s Dragon and Mary Poppins Returns but for the most part they’ve been pale imitations of the beloved original films they are based off of. That said I do try to go into any film I watch with a positive outlook hoping for the best (and sometimes like with MPR I am pleasantly surprised). I say all of this because I want it to be clear that it gives me no joy to say Disney’s latest remake Pinocchio is the worst of these remakes and quite possibly one of the worst movies the studio has ever made. I really am struggling to find anything positive to say about it and only hope the Guillermo del Toro version coming in December will wipe this disaster out of my memory.
This version of Pinocchio is directed by Robert Zemeckis, and we should have gotten a clue of his remake skills with his recent disappointing adaptation of Witches but that feels outstanding compared to this. There are so many aspects I disliked that it’s almost hard to know where to begin but I will try:
First, the animation is awful. From one of the most beautiful animated films ever made it’s painful to have this version that looks like plastic with a shiny cheap CG aesthetic to everything. Every set piece especially Monstro looks like something from a Disney copycat studio in 2002 not from Disney itself in 2022. I expect much better from Disney these days. I hated all the character designs including Jiminy and Pinocchio. They looked like bad video game Kingdom Hearts characters not from a major feature film.
Next, Tom Hanks as Geppetto is a major problem. His acting is over-the-top and it is always obvious he isn’t working with real characters. This is surprising because he has done motion capture work before in The Polar Express. It’s hard for me to think of a more false and weak performance Hanks has ever given. The emotional sequences feel shouty and fake and there is no bond between his character and Pinocchio.
The script by Zemeckis and Chris Weitz is also extremely weak. Like many of these remakes they explain things that don’t need explaining and the additions they make are pure cringe. They add in a female puppet friend for Pinocchio that is strange because it’s played as a sentient character but it’s not so what is the puppeteer doing? Why is she invested in making a friend for Pinocchio? It’s strange.
We also get some terrible humor with at one point making a joke about Pinocchio’s name at least not being Chris Pine because he’s made of wood… That’s how bad the jokes are. There are strange choices like they make his nose getting longer purposeful to reach the keys instead of being a punishment for lying. They also make the kids in Pleasure Island drink rootbeer but still have them turned into donkeys, which seems like a strange punishment for drinking soda. There are so many choices like that which are just stupid!
The Monstro sequences has Geppetto getting excited for Pinocchio who is waterskiing at the time. There’s no sense of tension or loss. No desperation just plucky weird looking Pinocchio having a good time. If it sounds like I am making this up: I wish I was.
The only thing I liked in this Pinocchio is Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy. She’s a beautiful actress and her rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” is lovely. Luke Evans is so weird as The Coachman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fine as Jiminy but that’s all I’ve got for positives. If you are jonesing for Pinocchio either wait for the GDT version or watch the original classic. Whatever this is, it’s a definite skip.
1 out of 10
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