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Disney’s Pinocchio Do-Over Is Congenial

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Truth be told, like a lot of fans, l have been patiently waiting for Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson’s version of ‘Pinocchio’ which comes out November 2022 on Netflix, but until then, Disney’s do-over of the children’s classic looked intriguing too. So we streamed it on Disney Plus.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, ‘Pinocchio’ stars Tom Hanks as eccentric wood-carver Gepetto, who pours his heart into making a little wooden boy. Child actor Benjamin Evan Ainsworth lends his voice to the titular protagonist, breathing boundless energy to the puppet. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s vocals were unrecognizable as Jiminy Cricket, the insect that serves as Pinocchio’s conscience. In-fact, Levitt’s voice was pretty annoying at the start as the principal narrator of the story. It’s clear the actor was attempting to ape Cliff Edwards who voiced Jiminy in the 1940 Disney adaptation; perhaps fans of the old classic might appreciate his effort.

Visually, the new Disney ‘Pinocchio’ is sumptuous in parts, and brownie points to the creators for staying faithful to the popular image of the character (although I am still very excited to see Guillermo’s distinctly different take). The animation is simple and all the animated/surreal characters are seamlessly blended into a real life world with real people; so watching an old Tom Hanks in flesh-and-blood dancing with a wooden toy was quite delightful. A few more Gepetto-Pinocchio moments would’ve been welcome, but soon Pinocchio goes on an adventure of his own – filled with mean teachers, deceptive animals, greedy atrocious puppet-masters, rowdy children and evil traffickers.

One can tell younger viewers, especially kids below 12 would probably be thrilled to bits watching this magical tale about a little wooden boy learning about the real world. Overall, the tone of the film is childlike and charming; however an unnecessary amount of scenes are shot in the night against a dark palette, which was confusing as a viewer. Why make a children’s tale look like a horror flick? Also, the pace of the film was a little weird, things seem to move too fast and sometimes it feels like the characters are rushing through their dialogues to ensure things fit within the runtime. All the songs are too short, which is actually great, because the musical score was lackluster.

As far as Disney classics go, the climax didn’t hit the kind of emotional crescendo as some would hope for, yet Gepetto and Pinocchio might manage to worm their way into a lot of hearts. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the film far more than I expected to. It’s a 7/10 from me!

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