Does the world need another “Pinocchio” revival?
Methinks not. Let’s face it: Disney’s classic animated feature, treasured by old and young alike, suffices. It’s the beloved version everyone adores and knows. Older generations, for sure, and the current younger folks.
Yet there’s a new 2022 version, a peculiar mashup with live actors and animated figures, with Tom Hanks, of all people, as Geppetto, the elderly clockmaker of tick-tocking clocks. He is sad and lonely in his cottage after the loss of his son.
So he pursues a project – a wooden son?
The revival begins with good intentions and motives, and even includes — why not? – the cartoon film’s anthem, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” the signature of the Disney franchise and theme parks. But why not? Familiarity sells.
“Pinocchio,” directed by Robert Zemeckis, betrays the concept and intentions of the tale of a clockmaker creating, and giving life (without the strings), to a wooden a puppet doll. This Pinocchio goes to school, where he is bullied and maligned, and even goes to a theme park (not a Disney complex), where he becomes emotionally bruised. Reason: he has no conscience and is poised to be someone who seeks to be famous, a journey that thrusts him into a Pleasure Island of threatening horrors.
The bottom line: Pinocchio wants to be real and in fairy tales, that’s a logical wish. Your nose shouldn’t get long if you have this wish; it’s an acceptable goal, after all. As for Hanks, bewigged and bewildered, he visually fills the bill. But the story is the problem.
The script, by director Zemeckis and co-writer Chris Weitz, is quite a mess with a mission gone astray. It should be family-friendly, but it is often frightening; it should be terrific, but it is terrifying in spots. Not a version or vision for the very young,
Jiminy Cricket is aboard, in animation, and voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, voiced Pinocchio. Cynthia Erivo, appearing as the Blue Fairy, renders the famous “Wish” ditty in live action, so this is a fantasy within a fantasy, and her version is stunning—she has the wand that will make the wooden boy/toy “real.” Her presence is a good intro/promo when she co-stars in the planned film version of “Wicked.”
But be warned: Whether you like or dislike revivals, be informed that Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion version of “Pinocchio,” will debut Oct. 15 at the BFI London Film Festival, then destined to have a theatrical premiere in November, followed by a Netflix kickoff Dec. 9. Online previews suggest a dark, perhaps grotesque, rendering is ahead.
Too many, too often? …
And that’s Show Biz. …