The DisInsider

Exclusive Daily Disney News

‘Pinocchio’ Review: Got No Strings But Filled with Cringe

“Do you think God stays in heaven because he, too, lives in fear of what he’s created here on earth?”

Robert Rodriguez, Spy Kids (2001).

The next live-action Disney remake is upon us. They’ve been hit or miss so far, but many people have grown tired of Disney pumping out remake-after-remake; will Pinocchio change anyone’s minds?

Based upon Disney’s 1940 animated film of the same name and Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, this new live-action version reunites director Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks for their fourth collaboration. Their previous movies, Forrest Gump and Cast Away were critical darlings, while The Polar Express, though not as well regarded, has grown into a well-loved holiday movie. It’s unlikely that Pinocchio will be either a critical darling or a well-loved future classic.

The Main Players

(L-R): Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), Tom Hanks as Geppetto, and Figaro in Disney’s live-action PINOCCHIO, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The new Pinocchio will not help the backlash Disney has been facing regarding their remakes. Despite it having some originality sprinkled throughout, the film is essentially a scene-by-scene remake of the animated original.

READ: Composer Henry Jackman Scoring Disney’s ‘Strange World’

Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (“The Haunting of Bly Manor”) voices the little wooden puppet, and he’s excellent at doing it. He sounds enough like Dickie Jones’ original but also sounds different enough that he can make the role a little of his own – even though it’s clear that Disney just wanted a soundalike.

READ: Chadwick Boseman, Abbott Elementary, and More Nab Emmy Awards

I have no complaints about his performance (dare I say I enjoyed his voice work more than Tom Hanks?), but the character is extremely irritating. If you hated Pinocchio before then, you’ll want to set your TV on fire with this new version. And that’s all without mentioning the character’s design – more on that in a bit.

(L-R): Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy, Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), and Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Disney’s live-action PINOCCHIO, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The movie’s main selling point is Tom Hanks’ Geppetto, and he is… fine. Early on in the movie, he bumbles around like an old man in a pantomime but as the film goes on it becomes increasingly clear that he will be one of the few saving graces of the entire experience. Once the plot allows Geppetto to leave his workshop, Hanks is able to actually deliver a decent performance but having to act alongside CGI characters is such a waste of his talents.

READ: Jodie Turner-Smith Joins ‘The Acolyte’ at Disney+

Cynthia Erivo is another star that Disney has bigged up, and yes, she is great and her performance of “When You Wish Upon a Star” is fantastic, but her appearance is only fleeting. Luke Evans also joins in on the fun as The Coachman, the owner and operator of Pleasure Island. If you loved Evans as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast (2017), then you’ll love him in Pinocchio because he is playing a very similar role.

Far Too Much CGI

(L-R): Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) in Disney’s live-action PINOCCHIO, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

When the first promotional clips of Pinocchio were released, many had no issue with him looking exactly the same as his 1940-counterpart, and on paper, it seems like a safe choice – unfortunately, it would have done Disney well to have used a real actor in makeup because Pinocchio is jarring to look at throughout. He’s a CGI character with (what I think is) a 2D-animated face. The combination does work well, but seeing a photorealistic animated puppet-child dance around and spin his head like Regan from The Exorcist is pure nightmare fuel.

READ: Yelena Belova Will Reportedly Lead The ‘Thunderbolts’ Film

He isn’t the only CGI character of course. We have Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Honest John (Keegan-Michael Key) who both look pretty decent, even if Jiminy’s head looks too much like a Brussel sprout. There’s also the addition of Sofia the Seagull (Lorraine Bracco) who I have no complaints about since she looks like a regular seagull.

Tom Hanks as Geppetto in PINOCCHIO, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Besides Pinocchio, the CGI is not an issue with the characters but with the sets. There were some tangible sets for the actors to play around on (Geppetto’s workshop is one of them) but far too many were CGI-rendered. Pleasure Island is the worst offender as it’s nothing more than a mishmash of computer graphics that already appear to be outdated.

RUMOR: ‘Cruella 2’ Will Be A Musical, Taylor Swift Wanted For The Villain Role?

It should be noted that many visual effects animators have spoken out against Disney for how stressful working on their movies can be – notably for Marvel Studios, so it cannot be ignored that these issues may be the result of an overworked environment.

TV Movie Quality

Streaming movies have come a long way, and many of them feel like movies that could be released in cinemas, but many Disney+ Original Movies have a TV Movie (or Disney Channel) quality to them. Pinocchio is no different because it very much feels like it was never destined to be shown in cinemas. Though not inherently bad, this quality makes me wonder whether Disney isn’t shelling enough money into their original movies.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Pinocchio is a well-intentioned and fun ride for kids, but it will leave a sour taste in the mouths of adults who are forced to endure this unnecessary, CGI-heavy cringefest. Bring on Guillermo Del Toro’s rendition of the Italian classic!

About Post Author