It’s safe to say that anyone who saw the 1940 edition of “Pinocchio” expecting to see the titular puppet hero interact with a photorealistic pile of horse excrement was left disappointed. However, a new recreation gives Disney fans the opportunity to do just that, despite the fact that it has been 82 years and innumerable technical advancements since the original release.
Pinocchio’s first experience with the outside world is a giant pile of dung complete with computer-generated insects flying around it that he squats down to sniff.
Even though movie buffs won’t get to see that scene on the big screen because the film was released exclusively via streaming services, it’s still a memorable sight.
The image of the beloved character poking at genuine horseshit raises the curious question, “Who on Earth was asking for this?” and may serve as an unintended metaphor for what Disney’s shameless IP regurgitation has become. ”
Robert Zemeckis’ “Pinocchio” commits several faults, the worst of which is that it can’t decide why it exists. When it’s faithfully reenacting the film that inspired it, it shines, but when it tries to branch out on its own, it ends up in some absolutely terrible territory.
Fans of the original “Pinocchio” who felt that the cats weren’t mangy enough, that there weren’t enough Chris Pine references, and that Jiminy Cricket didn’t make enough jokes about Geppetto’s failure to get laid will be delighted by Zemeckis’ new flick. Everyone else should just go back and watch the first one again.
Even a non-dedicated Disney fan should be familiar with the plot. To fulfill his desire for a son, a clockmaker (Tom Hanks) constructs a wooden puppet, and the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) gives him what he wishes for, bringing the boy to life.
Pinocchio’s conscience is a cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but he still disobeys his father and stays out past his bedtime to see a puppet play, where he is abducted and sent to Pleasure Island, where misbehaving boys are turned into donkeys.
Zemeckis’ adaptation is faithful to the original premise, however, it watered down and simplified many of the film’s most memorable moments.
The wicked fox Honest John (Keegan Michael Key) constantly harps on the value of having a large fan base, which is a notable departure from the original. In case his “these darn youngsters spend too much time on Instagram” routine wasn’t obvious enough, he next pretends to take a photo with his fingers.
Although casting Hanks as Geppetto was a brilliant stroke of inspiration, his performance continued his recent slump. The actor plays a puppet master with a shaky European accent, providing a kid-friendly variation of his “Elvis” performance.
By any standard, it fails miserably, although it’s hard to be too harsh on Hanks considering the material he had to deal with.
Most of his scenes have him being alone with his clocks and cats, and much of his dialogue consists of him explaining things to them. Without a co-star or any real cause to speak, Gepetto quickly becomes more like Doc from “Fraggle Rock” than the original version of the character.
There is some genuine Disney charm in “Pinocchio,” despite the film’s many shortcomings. The film intelligently peppers the score with allusions to the timeless hit “When You Wish Upon a Star.” And the production design is great overall, especially at the workshop where Geppetto works.
Many of his vintage clocks feature excellent handiwork, and all of them feature references to other Disney films. Even though his antennae are a touch too cockroach-like, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is very convincing as Jiminy Insect, and the scenes of the animated cricket exploring the workshop are among the film’s most cinematic.
If you take it at face value, “Pinocchio” is innocent children’s entertainment on par with the kind of stuff that used to be sold in the Disney store’s direct-to-DVD department at your local mall. However, one cannot accept at face value a remake of a beloved film that faithfully recreates the original’s visual style and narrative beats.
When the original film is also available on the same streaming service as the remake, this becomes more problematic.
The most essential task given to Zemeckis was to convince Disney+ subscribers to watch his “Pinocchio” instead of merely watching the original, yet he failed to do so. When going up against the real deal, you need more than just a pile of computer-generated excrement.
The original story is still unquestionably great, but “Pinocchio” fails to retell it successfully since it goes against the story’s own recommendations. Attempts to bring it up to date just serve to highlight how unnecessary those efforts were.
A CGI fox imitating a smartphone camera wasn’t necessary to make a story about how the superficial judgments of your friends are less significant than your genuine character feels relevant.
Disney wouldn’t have made this remake if they valued classic values and integrity more than a fresh coat of paint.
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