Released: 8th September
Seen: 18th September
In 1940, high off the release of the first feature-length animated motion picture, Disney released Pinocchio. While we look back on Pinocchio as an absolute classic that would eventually be a box office success upon its 1945 re-release, the original release was a complete flop thanks to being released during WW2 which cut off several major markets. Since then, Pinocchio has become an absolute staple of the Disney company, Jiminy Cricket was basically a secondary mascot for a period of time considering how many specials he turned up in and the song “When You Wish Upon A Star” not only became the first Disney song to win an Oscar but became the Disney theme song. This film has been a core moment of pop culture that still resonates in some form… and because we are living in a time where Disney must remake every one of their classic films, we have another D-make and it’s just kind of bland.
Pinocchio (2022) tells almost the exact same story as the original. You know it well, a little old clockmaker named Geppetto (Tom Hanks) lives alone in his little shop and out of a need for company he makes a little wooden puppet that he names Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth). Geppetto wishes upon a star and the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) comes down, makes Pinocchio into a sentient being and tasks a cricket named Jiminy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) with being Pinocchio’s conscience. The next day on the way to school, Pinocchio runs into some bad people who pull him off the right track and he ends up being part of a puppet show and going to a nightmare pleasure island, literally everything from the 1940 version happens here except it takes two hours instead of 88 minutes because of some reasons.
It would be unfair to say that Pinocchio is awful or even particularly bad… because that would imply it had enough substance to be put in either of those categories. If you want to see the definition of a remake that does nothing whatsoever, this would be the movie to point to. It copies the original so much that you can’t help but go “Why not just watch the original, it looks better!”. The plot barely changes, bar one pointless addition, and somehow still adds half an hour to the runtime without adding anything of substance. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s that it’s bland.
Visually, everything feels like it just doesn’t fit together, even in just Geppetto’s workshop. There’s the live-action character of Geppetto beside the perfect recreation of the 2D character in Pinocchio against the almost realistic-looking Figaro the Cat against the realistic-except-in-the-eyes Cleo the Goldfish against the cross between OG and realism that is Jiminy. Every one of them is a different style choice and that goes for almost every performance and character, creating this jumbled look that never feels cohesive at any point. Even the acting isn’t tonally consistent, with some people going for nuance while others chew the scenery (and, incidentally, become the most enjoyable elements of the film).
Indeed the only two actors who actually do anything valuable to make the film worth watching are Keegan-Michael Key as Honest John and Luke Evans as the Coachman. Both of them realised they were playing Disney villains and decided to turn everything up to 11, throwing out the film’s only good jokes and actually making something interesting out of the material. Compare them to Tom Hanks who is just kind of there, it means the film only has a few mild bright spots and they don’t even last for that long.
The big addition to this film that’s not in the 1940 version would be that of Fabiana (Kyanne Lamaya), a girl with a foot brace who is also the main puppeteer for Sabina, one of the puppets in the big show that Pinocchio is forced into and it’s undeniable that she has enough charm and likability to make you love her in her brief time but she doesn’t really do much for the plot. If removed then nothing changes, other than the brief reminder that not all humans are bad… but we know that because we keep seeing Gepetto being a good person. You will desperately wish they used Fabiana a lot more, it would’ve actually been a great addition to the movie to have her there alongside Jiminy to try and push Pinocchio in the right direction but unfortunately, they don’t do that.
Speaking of Jiminy, the film goes out of its way to keep him separate from Pinocchio, meaning that Pinocchio never has a chance to actually listen to his conscience. The entire point of the original was that Pinocchio needed to learn to listen to his conscience, that he was willfully choosing the bad choices and Jiminy was the constant voice of reason… remove that and Pinocchio goes from being a character making choices to an idiot being thrown around the plot like a ragdoll for a few hours. He doesn’t have a chance to learn anything throughout the story because his guide is off stuck in a jar somewhere (not a metaphor, literally stuck in a jar) being completely useless.
Completely useless might actually be the perfect way to describe the 2022 remake of Pinocchio, it’s useless. It doesn’t do anything interesting with the material, adds nothing of substance to make it worth existing and coasts almost entirely on imagery from the original movie that it doesn’t even use properly. It’s not so bad that it’s worth hating, but it’s just not good. It’s charmless, hollow, empty… wooden. It’s a wooden lifeless facsimile of the much better 1940s version. Shock of all shocks, a Disney remake of a beloved classic is not able to measure up to the original, truly a surprising development to absolutely no one.
2 thoughts on “Pinocchio (2022) – Wooden”