Disney lovers far and wide have been talking about the soon-to-be live action remake of the beloved movie Pinocchio (1940) and there have been many speculations regarding what people should expect once it became available to viewers. Once it hit the Disney+ streaming service on September 8th, I decided to watch and give you the run-down on what to expect.
The CGI for the titular puppet in Robert Zemeckis’ live-action Pinocchio remake doesn’t make him appear as if he’s really there for a single second of the entire movie. When human characters touch or hold him, their hands subtly protrude his body as he awkwardly wobbles in their grip. His movement is unnaturally fluid and animated. He lacks any weight. He seems hollow; vacant. Void.
He looks like Pinocchio, but lacks the tangibility and presence required to come alive. *Ahem*
The worst crime the Pinocchio remake commits is that it softens the edges on the original film’s vision. It took a story that strikes a sucker punch of truth and sanded it down to a slap on the wrist.
Disney’s 1940 original animated classic remains one of the boldest displays of tough love ever put to screen. It’s arguably Disney’s most didactic and pointed Golden Age film and it’s among the scariest kids movies ever made.
Zemeckis’ film, however, is such a dizzy parade of incomplete ideas with lower stakes than the original at every stage of the story that it’s hard to recognize what this shallow retread is trying to say. Which is one thing nobody can say about the original.
Not to mention, the way Disney has gone about revising their classics in this ongoing trend by employing the same copied-and-pasted visuals, story beats, and character models renders some of these remakes so awkward and unwatchable that it feels like self-sabotage. And Pinocchio might be the worst offender.
For instance, Tom Hanks is Geppetto here. The original Geppetto is one of those iconic Disney characters who can simply be, in the vein of a famous figure of literature. Somebody voices him, but I don’t know their name. Somebody drew him, I don’t know their name.
It doesn’t matter. He’s just Geppetto.
And attempting to replace him with a famous actor in a frizzy, white wig is a futile effort. Predictably, Tom Hanks does not become Geppetto here. Which is such a silly point to make, because… obviously he doesn’t! You carry the burden of pretending he’s Geppetto. Amidst the larger burden of pretending you’re watching real Pinocchio.
So maybe just watch real Pinocchio.