The latest abomination from Disney in the form of live-action remakes that have no business coming to fruition is none other than the magic that was Pinocchio, about a wooden boy who had to find himself to become real. Back in 1940, Disney bet the bank on this story and luckily it was a massive hit and became universally beloved. In fact, it was so popular that Disney still uses the song “When You Wish Upon A Star” from this film as its music for its logo. This live-action remake from once great director Robert Zemeckis who has teamed up yet again unsuccessfully with Tom Hanks has brought the worst film in ages that is all sorts of terrible and awful from start to finish. Avoid this movie at all costs.
It’s not clear how something as bad as this movie was able to be released and got a green light, but if someone has Zemeckis and Hanks all in, then there must be a unified “Yes” on every creative decision no matter what. It’s sad, but this should never happen and this is the perfect case where Disney should hang up their hat on live-action remakes and focus on something original and creative again. They’re capable of this, but with this version of Pinocchio, everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves for this wretched and foul final product.
Again, much like every single live-action Disney remake that’s come before this sans Cruella, all the magic that was endeared and made in the original animated films was lost in these emotionless and stale remakes. Most of the time, these live-action versions are shot-for-shot remakes, removing any single creative mark by a new filmmaker who dares enter this charmless realm. This marks true for Pinocchio as well. At the beginning of the film, it was nice to see the pain Gepetto (Hanks) is going through while creating his wooden boy, due to his family passing away recently. But shortly after that and a few cameos from other Pixar and Disney films through his cuckoo clocks, something Zemeckis is used to by now, the film quickly nosedives into a dumpster fire mess.
The story follows the same route where Pinocchio meets Honest John (Keegan Michael Key), Jiminy Cricket (an awful Joseph Gordon Levitt), is kidnapped by Stromboli, ends up at Pleasure Island, and then comes face to face with a whale named Monstro. Zemeckis decided to give Pinocchio a love interest in the form of a marionette ballerina puppet that plays off as awkward and bad as one might suspect. It goes nowhere and is fantastically bad. This element serves no purpose and did not further Pinocchio’s journey of doing good deeds and becoming a real boy, but more on that in a minute.
When Pinocchio and the other kids hit up Pleasure Island in the original film, it’s shown all of the temptations that could turn a child onto the wrong path. It showed children smoking, drinking alcohol, and gambling. A real-world temptation that can cause a downfall. In this blasphemous version from Disney and Zemeckis, these vices only included drinking foamy rootbeer and eating candy. That’s it. It proves Disney and Zemeckis are not ready to really make movies smart enough for kids still and are only trying to avoid a small number of people from complaining. In doing this, the stakes are low and none of it matters that now two smoke monsters try and turn kids into donkeys in a slapstick way. This sequence has lost all its terror from the original and instead has become a farce.
Hanks’s performance is forgettable. The guy just doesn’t make great movies anymore and it’s sad because he’s amazing when he chooses to be. Maybe one day, he will say yes to Scorsese, Tarantino, Aster, or even Jordan Peele, who will finally illicit his talent once again. But his mannerisms and accent do no justice to this character and come across as silly. Levitt tries as Jiminy, but fails with his North Eastern dialect and never fully commits to the magic that was this character. Pinocchio sounds like it came from three different kids, allow which went for a more annoying whine than something of a curiosity lifestyle within their voice. It’s painfully bad.
The visual effects of Pinocchio himself and even the giant whale who is now a sea monster with tentacles look awful and unrealistic. And in the end, as just another slap to the face, Zemeckis doesn’t even make Pinocchio a real boy but rather leaves him wooden after everything he went through, thus making this version of a beloved classic a waste of time and a horrid mess that makes no sense and that has no business being shown. Avoid it as this is the worst film of the year.