In 1940, a Walt Disney Studios released one of his most adorable animations – the fun and inspiring ‘Pinocchio’. Based on the Italian novel of the same name by Carlo Collodi, the narrative follows an old cabinetmaker named Geppetto, whose greatest desire is to have a child. At his request, the benevolent Blue Fairy uses her powers to bring the titular puppet to life, advising him to be brave, true and generous in order to, in fact, become a real boy. However, as we can imagine, Pinocchio is seduced by the temptations of life and, at times, deviates from his path of goodness and almost gives in to the futility of his daily life – either by the empty promises of fame and success, or by the induced imprisonment of the Island of pleasures.
Considered as a great archetypal metaphor of good and evil (something quite incisive, considering that the film was released at the beginning of World War II), the story was immortalized in many ways and with countless reinterpretations – including a futuristic animation entitled ‘Pinocchio 3000’ is backstory darkest in the series ‘Once Upon a Time’. Now, continuing your wave of remakes em live-actionCasa Mouse launches a new adaptation of the plot in the catalog of Disney+, aimed essentially at the most recent generation of children and trying to reorganize the plot as a support for the present. However, despite the good intentions, the re-reading is a tedious venture, without much interesting to say and without much originality (except for some criminal changes that basically forget the essence of the original work).
The first act follows in the footsteps of the 1940 film: the opening scene introduces us to Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) arriving at Geppetto’s house on a cold night, looking to get warm. There, the carpenter, played by the always incredible Tom Hanks, talks to himself and his pets, Cleo and Figaro, about their creations and about their desire to have a child to share the stories behind the dozens of clocks. After all, he lost his wife and has since confined himself to the shop he owns, afraid to face the outside world and finding comfort with himself and the solid walls that protect him. As we already know, the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) hears Geppetto’s prayer and gives life to the wooden puppet Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), which, despite “almost being a real boy”, is enough to bring happiness to the cabinetmaker.
In a way, the fact that live-action being extremely passionate about animation poses a double-edged sword: on the one hand, all the stylistic and imagery elements are there, taking us to a scenario lost in time and full of obstacles through which Pinocchio will navigate. He faces the harsh reality of being different from other children, which is why he is expelled from school, as well as the menacing presence of Honesto, a crooked fox and scammer who manages to convince him that the show business it is what the future holds for the protagonist, and not the normality of the school; we also have the dangerous and cruel Mr. Stromboli (Joseph Battiston), owner of an itinerant puppet circus, and the coachman’s lip service (Luke Evans), which takes children to the sinister Ilha dos Prazeres to transform them into donkeys and sell them to the salt mines.
On the other hand, this fascination with the original production also shows itself as martyrdom. In the end, Robert Zemeckiswhich commands the remake and signs the script, seems too caught up in honoring the animation and not looking for something new, as we saw in ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Could’ or ‘Aladdin’. Of course, we have the presence of Kyanne Lamaya as Fabiana, a former ballerina who works for Stromboli against her will and who becomes an unexpected ally of Pinocchio – but if we take her out of the game, nothing changes. Fabiana is constructed only as a palliative choice and does not put anything in check for the protagonist’s fate or provide considerable help. Not even the Island’s bizarre smoky creatures are much of a threat – coming and going as they are: utterly forgettable.
Of course, we still have the familiar charm of Zemeckis, who seems more concerned with giving Hanks one more chance to shine after so many collaborations. The director even borrows some pages from ‘Scrooge’s Ghosts’ e ‘The Polar Express’ and even infused with nostalgic classicism, something still seems to be missing – and it’s sad to think that Zemeckis, in short, doesn’t seem inspired enough to bring this timeless story into the new century (and that’s not to mention the atrocious and inexplicable decision not to transform the wooden puppet into a real boy in the final scenes).
‘Pinocchio’ may have his heart in the right place, but that’s not enough to break the curse that befalls Walt Disney Studios and its remakes. In every aspect, a piece to be missed, never reaching full completion and leaving behind a bittersweet aftertaste of wanting more that can only be satisfied by returning to a distant past.