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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Spring 2022

Pinocchio (2022) movie review

The Remake with No Heart

Carlo Collodi's classic tale of an elderly, lonely clockmaker who wishes upon a star that his child-like marionette can become 'a real boy'. A fairy brings the marionette to life, but it is up to the marionette, Pinocchio, to become real by living a good life.

Pinocchio has become an iconic character, and idea. In STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, the cyborg Data is likened to Pinocchio because he would like to be human. The scene where Pinocchio's nose gets longer and longer with each lie he tells has passed into popular culture. When someone is lying, we may say, "Your nose is getting longer." And the song, "When you wish upon a star", from the original 1940 film, has been the signature theme for Walt Disney's companies for generations.

Movie poster, Pinocchio; Festivale film review

Movie poster, Pinocchio (2022); Festivale film review
Being real is in your heart.

The remaking the 1940 film after more than 80 years by the Disney companies is a remarkably scary prospect. The filmmakers and business-drivers are messing with a cultural icon. Will they devalue this important asset? Culturally, can they dilute the power of the iconic story and production by reinterpeting the story? Is this an artistic endeavour, or just a money-grab?

Tom Hanks as Geppetto in Pinocchio (2022). Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises Inc. (c) 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.;x

Tom Hanks as Geppetto in Pinocchio (2022) Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises Inc. (c) 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

To be blunt, PINOCCHIO (2022) is an epic fail. It is a waste of money, time, and talent. The original film runs for 1 hour 28 mins, this one is 1 hour 45 minutes, and not surprisingly the new version drags. I and my film-watching companion turned with some relief from the 2022/Tom Hanks live action/CGI combination version to the original hand-drawn 2D version. I unreservedly recommend watching the 1940 version.

Elsewhere commentators have pointed out that the ending of the new version "misses the point" of the original, and as FESTIVALE reviews by policy do not reveal or discuss endings, readers will need to watch the film and read elsewhere for discussions of the ending.

On the other hand, we can reveal that in a combination of twenty-first century sensibilities and political correctness, there are changes from the original white-white interpretation. We should not be afraid to watch, with children or not, the stories from earlier decades. The broad stereotypes and cliches are valuable to encourage family and school discussions of what is art versus prejudice in its various forms. Let us not hide the past, but rather demonstrate by acts and deeds and discussions that we strive to be better.

May I suggest the term "colour-washing", where a previous all-white production is reinterpreted for modern audiences? One must ask if there is a genuine desire to use the best talent, the most interesting interpretations, or is there a blatant and cynical wish to create the most profitable (read: less offensive) vehicle for theatres and timeslots? Ultimately making decisions from the pocket, not the heart, resonate in the resultant material.


Pinocchio 2022 - 1940 comparison Blue Fairy & Pinocchio
Cynthia Erivo as the new fairy adds to the 2022 version
Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises Inc. (c) 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

We see unprofitable and unsatisfying results in superhero and action films where the producers try to graft women into roles instead of honestly writing stories about female heroes.

In PINOCCHIO (2022) the Robert Zemeckis/Chris Weitz rewriting has an awkwardness and slow-pacing where the film-makers have bloated the Geppetto role for the famous, probably expensive, Tom Hanks.

Worse, less forgivable even, is the awfulness of the characterisation of the animals, and the bone-deep lack of charm in the new version. In 1940 Figaro the cat and Cleo the fish are beautifully drawn and characterised. Figaro is sweet, a little jealous, a comedic contributor, and a true, believable portrayal of a cat. Cleo is flirtatious and loving. In the 2022 version, the CGI cat is a cipher, a bit of scenery for Hanks to interact with. Famously actors have been referred to by directors as human props. In PINOCCHIO 2022 Figaro and Cleo, for example, are place markers, uncharacterised props. Their actions, motivations, their humour, sweetness and joy are non-existent. SHAME, DISNEY, SHAME.


Figaro and Cleo, above 1940, below, 2022 Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises Inc. (c) 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Many of the details from the original are lost in the 2022 version, the fine details of the backgrounds, the thoughtful use of scenery, are likewise missing. When 2022 Jiminy Cricket falls asleep in a wooden bed-like item, it is meaningless. In the original the angle and the drawing clearly reveal that he has cleverly found a bed in the scrollwork of a violin. It's cute. It's fun. It's a delightful little idea, humorous, and one of the details that make the early Disney features last for decades.

Jiminy Cricket's Violin scroll bed in Disney's 1940 PINOCCHIO ;720x416

Jiminy Cricket's Violin scroll bed in Disney's 1940 PINOCCHIO Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises Inc. (c) 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I'll leave it to you to decide whether replacing the original fun cuckoo clocks with well-known Disney icons like Donald Duck is an in-joke with the audience or a bit of self-congratulatory ego tripping.

Ultimately, gentle readers, your life will be in no way diminished by never seeing this film. Your time and that of your friends and family, adult and young, would be much better and more enjoyably spent by watching the bright and charming original. If you choose to follow the film with a thoughtful discussion of stereotypes afterwards, all to the good. PINOCCHIO is, after all, a story created to teach children the importance of having and listening to their conscience. It is about becoming a 'real' valuable person by being a 'good' person. It is a promise that one can find good things if we behave well. This may not be the way of the real world, but it is a story that we want children, and adults, to take to heart.

And, in the final count, ironically, what PINOCCHIO (2022) is missing, is a good heart.


Add your comments

Respectfully submitted, by Ali Kayn, September 2022
Due for Australian release September 8, 2022 (2022-09-08)
For credits and official site details, see below
Search Festivale for more work by the film-makers below.

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Just the facts:

Title: Pinocchio (2022)
Written by: Robert Zemeckis & Chris Weitz; Carlo Collodi (original story)
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Music by: Alan Silvestri, Original songs by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard
WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR written by Leigh Harline, Ned Washington, performed by Cynthia Erivo Running time: 1 hour 45 min
Rating: PG

The Players: Tom Hanks, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Keegan-Michael Key, Lorraine Bracco, with Cynthia Erivo and Luke Evans

Official website:
Twitter: @DisneyPlus; Instagram: @DisneyPlus; Facebook: Disney Plus; TikTok: @DisneyPlus
IMDb entry

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For more information about this movie, check out the internet movie database.
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