‘Pinocchio’: Another Live-Action Letdown from Disney


Released on Sept. 8., “Pinocchio” is Disney’s latest live-action disappointment retelling the story of one of their classic cartoons.

Benedicto Campo, Media Critic

“Pinocchio” is Disney’s latest live-action remake. The 2022 remake of the classic Disney cartoon retells the plot of the original movie by the same name released in 1940. However, this remake has many differences not present in the original. The film is directed by Robert Zemeckis, known for directing several classics like the “Back to The Future” trilogy, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “Forrest Gump”, “Cast Away”, and “The Polar Express”. The film’s star-studded cast includes Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Pinocchio, Tom Hanks as Geppetto, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket, Keegan-Michael Key as Honest John, Cynthia Erivo as The Blue Fairy, and Luke Evans as The Coachman. The movie also includes musical numbers performed by the cast of the film. 

 Like in the original movie, the story focuses on a man named Geppetto who creates a wooden puppet named Pinocchio while grieving the loss of his wife and son. When he wishes upon a star one night, The Blue Fairy appears and brings his wooden puppet Pinocchio to life. The Blue Fairy tasks Pinocchio with being a good person in order to become a real boy and appoints Jiminy Cricket to become his conscience along the way. After this, Pinocchio and Jiminy go on wild adventures that test Pinocchio’s character on his quest to become a real boy.

 I was never a fan of “Pinocchio” growing up. I was more interested in other Disney classics like “The Lion King”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Toy Story”, and “The Incredibles”. I’ve only seen it once or twice. 

Disney’s remake of “Pinocchio” is yet another film to add to the growing list of poorly received live-action remakes. The remake adds too many new plot lines to the story and some details that miss the mark of the message of the original film. For example, in the famous scene where Pinocchio gets trapped by antagonist Stromboli, he lies for his nose to grow so he can reach for a key to escape. In the original film, the Blue Fairy comes to help Pinocchio because she wants to teach him a lesson: that lying is wrong and telling the truth is correct. Removing this scene in the remake changes the message of the original scene. Another prime example is the end of the movie. In the remake, Geppetto nearly dies but is revived by Pinocchio’s tears. After this scene, they go into a cave as Jiminy Cricket narrates, implying that Pinocchio became a real boy. In the original movie, it is Pinocchio who nearly dies but then is brought back to life, becoming a real boy in the end. The original scene was meant to show that Pinocchio earned his status as a real boy through the obstacles and changes he went through. In the remake, the ending is too ambiguous, and I feel this was an unnecessary change to the film that ruins the message of the original film’s ending. Another issue I had with this movie is that it has scenes with forced references to modern culture. At one point in the movie, Honest John makes a reference to “Star Trek” and “Don’t Worry Darling” star Chris Pine as he’s trying to make up stage names for Pinocchio. In the same scene, he signs his hands to make them look like a selfie phone as well. This shows how far the remake of the film was willing to go to force modern-day cultural references on its audience. The visual effects and computer-generated imagery of both the settings and the characters was another major issue- the biggest of which being with Pinocchio himself. He has his classic design from the original movie, which makes him look out of place with the humans and other CGI characters. The characters Jiminy Cricket and Honest John, who were also computer generated, also have poor designs and faces as well.

 Although there are more that I feel are negative aspects to the remake, there are also some positives as well. Although Honest John and Jiminy Cricket have poor designs, Keegan-Michael Key and Joseph Gordon-Levitt had what I will say were decent performances of their characters. Kay did a good job portraying Honest John’s cunning personality and mannerisms, while Levitt’s voice impression of Jiminy Cricket was also good. Another positive note for the film is Cynthia Erivo’s portrayal of The Blue Fairy. She did a fine job capturing the wisdom and kindness of her character. Her rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” was also a standout. 

Overall, Pinocchio is a poorly made live-action film of a famous and popular classic. It butchers the message of the original movie by adding scenes that are unnecessary and contradict the plot of the original movie, doing it no justice. The scenes with forced references to modern culture certainly don’t help either. The CGI and visual effects are also very poorly made as well. Although there are some decent performances and, of course, Cynthia Ervio’s song number, these elements aren’t enough to actually make the film good. “Pinocchio” is another letdown that will go into the cursed pool of Disney live-action remakes.