Carlo Collodi wrote the original fairytale in 1883 Italy and the story is still talked about to this day. Chris Weitz, Simon Farnaby, and director Robert Zemeckis (Witches) are turning it – more accurately the animated movie based on the novel – into a heavily CGI live-action movie. It stars Tom Hanks (Saving Mr Banks, The Da Vinci Code), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper, Snowden, Knives Out), Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (Flora & Ulysses, The Sandman), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Chaos Walking), Angus Wright (Cursed, Maleficent), Sheila Atim, Lorraine Bracco, Giuseppe Battiston, Keegan-Michael Key, and Luke Evans.
Premise: A hobo cricket named Jiminy Cricket enters the home of an elderly woodcarver named Geppetto, accompanied by his pet kitten Figaro and pet fish Cleo, and finds that he has completed work on a marionette puppet he names Pinocchio. When Geppetto decides to retire for the night, he makes a wish on a star. A few hours later, the star magically brings Pinocchio to life and he is soon visited by the Blue Fairy, who tells Pinocchio that if he acts brave, truthful and selfless, he can be a real boy and she also appoints Jiminy the responsibility of being Pinocchio’s conscience to teach him right from wrong. When Geppetto awakens and finds Pinocchio alive, he is at first shocked, but becomes overjoyed.
As confused as I was when Pinocchio‘s trailer came out, this movie jogged my memory a bit. There were many tidbits of the movie that I didn’t remember at all. I am sure that this adaptation is different from the animated movie but the messaging is the same – I think – and it’s less scary than what I remember.
I liked how the clocks in Geppetto’s shop were used, they are both easter eggs and subtle jokes. Some of them inferring that Geppetto might have lost his mind, or been under the influence. This movie is far more clever than it seems. Like most fairytales, it’s an allegory and a pretty good one at that. It’s about growing, trusting your gut, following your conscious and I guess making your parents proud. The messaging is done in such a way that it works for all ages.
The cast is also amazing, the whole way through I wondered who was voicing Jiminy cricket and thought it was Keegan-Michael Key until he appeared as Honest John. Joseph Gordon-Levitt did a great job as Jiminy but Honest John was amazing, he really did feel sleezy, with a BS salesman quality to him, and Stromboli – the circus guy – just completed the picture. They made me feel like Pinocchio was getting sucked into a system that was designed to take advantage of him. It was way more grounded and impactful than the Pleasure Island scenes as a whole.
The product design is mostly where the fantasy elements mostly come in, because the story on its own is made to be as grounded as possible. If it weren’t for the magic and the talking animals – some of who talk and others that don’t it’s not consistent but we’ll ignore it for now – this is a solid story. Geared toward children but made with adults in mind.
Streaming now on Disney+
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