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  • Writer's pictureTodd McDevitt

Disney Takes Away Pinocchio's Magic

Disney has released yet another appalling live-action remake of a beloved classic.

Watch The Original

Pinocchio (2022) is a live-action remake of the 1940 animated Disney classic of the same name. This remake was released directly to Disney Plus as part of the “Disney+ Day” celebration and has been met with a hostile reception. The film stars the voices of Benjamin Evan Ainsworth and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, respectively, and also stars Tom Hanks as Pinocchio’s father, Geppetto. In the movie, the wooden puppet Pinocchio comes to life and goes on a quest to become a real boy. But it doesn’t come as a surprise that the 82-year-old animated film is a much better story than this one.

The Umpteenth Live-Action Remake

Pinocchio continues Disney’s awful trend of remaking animated classics into live-action films. In the past twelve years, Disney has remade Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King, Lady, and the Tramp, Mulan, and more. Rarely are these remakes ever good, with most of these films receiving “rotten” audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes. These remakes feel like cash grabs and don’t add anything new to the story. The most recent Pinocchio is easily the worst of this ever-growing list of unnecessary remakes. Hopefully, Disney learned something from its poor reception: not every animated film needs a live-action version.

An Ordinary Rendition of an Extraordinary Character

The remake of Pinocchio lacks the magic that the original film possessed. Ainsworth’s voice acting is as wooden as the character he plays, making Pinocchio sound more like Dora the Explorer than Pinocchio in this movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a different role than usual for him as Jiminy Cricket, and while his voice acting is commendable, his chipper voice gets annoying quick. Tom Hanks is rarely in the movie and doesn’t seem to care about his acting, as it is very lackluster. The rest of the actors in this film put on similar mundane performances; none of them are worth mentioning. Most of the technical aspects are just as dull: the score, cinematography, editing, and production design add nothing of note. The one feature of this film that has the upper hand on the original version is the visual effects. It doesn’t come as a shock that the updated look of Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, and the other animated characters in this movie are worthy of praise, as they are seamlessly integrated into the live-action world around them. But appealing visuals are not enough to make this movie worth watching.

The Same…But Worse

Most Disney live-action remakes are criticized for regurgitating the same plot as the original film and not adding anything new to the story. Pinocchio is no exception. The plot points in this remake are almost precisely the same as the original, yet somehow, it feels like nothing of importance happens. Pinocchio goes through the same character beats and still doesn’t feel like he developed at all by the end of the film. Arguably the most significant part of his character is that his nose grows when he lies, despite that only happening in one scene of both versions of the film. But in this version, they don’t use his growing nose as a lesson for kids to learn to tell the truth. Instead, they treat it as a plot convenience to get him out of his cage and completely ignore any moral teachings that could be learned here. Children may now believe that they can get out of challenging situations if they lie, which is not something they should be taught.

Closing Critiques

Even Disney must have known this movie wasn’t going to be good, which is why they didn’t give it a theatrical release like most of their other live-action remakes. So, they sent it straight to their streaming service as part of their marketing campaign, hoping viewers would watch it for the name Pinocchio alone. Small children may enjoy this movie but deserve a better version of the story. So put on the 1940 version instead, or even the 2019 live-action film from Italy. Any Pinocchio movie is better than the 2022 version. Except for the version with Pauly Shore from last year. But it may actually be close.

Raving Rating: 4.4

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