Live-Action Pinocchio Entertains But Lack Luster

Voice and live actors deserve praise, but lackluster CGI and pacing don’t meet the high standards we’ve come to expect from Disney


CREDIT: Disney+

Disney is back at it again, taking beloved classics and recreating them in live-action. Starting with the Jungle Book, Disney recently remade Pinnochio, one of the first Disney movies made.

Compared to the original movie, there is less to like here overall, but if you liked the original, you’ll probably get a kick from this remake. There are a lot of problems here, and at times this movie can feel like a cash grab, very similar to some of the other live-action movies. 

Pinocchio is an interesting remake. Disney decided not to keep it a direct recreation of the original, adding new scenes and even a whole new character, Sabina (played by Kyanne Lamaya). The film is directed by Robert Zemeckis, of classic Back to the Future fame and an Academy Award Winner for Best Director and Best Picture with Forrest Gump

The general road map of the movie was the same, visiting the same places such as Stromboli’s puppet show and Pleasure Island. Loved characters reappear, such as Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Geppetto (played by Tom Hanks). 

While the CGI was better than past remakes of classic movies, it could have been better for the whopping $2.6 million budget allotted to the film. A scene like the iconic “When You Wish Upon A Star”  was pretty well done on the CGI side of things, but even that could have been improved considering how recognizable the scene is. 

In contrast, the Monstro scene towards the end of the movie seemed very goofy, and while it was serviceable, this is Disney we are talking about. With the budget they give to movies like this, especially ones that are primarily CGI, there should be a higher expectation than the product given. 

 Now the CGI might’ve been serviceable, but the pacing was not. My memory of the original is a bit foggy, but I don’t remember it being as fast paced as this remake. The movie moved a bit too fast, transitioning from one problem to the next instantaneously. For example, right after Pinocchio escapes from Stromboli, he gets taken by a stagecoach to Pleasure Island, in a matter of a minute or two. Although the movie is self-aware of the speed of the film, at times it is a bit too much action. 

To touch on something positive, both the voice actors and actors did very well overall. Tom Hanks was amazing on Gepetto and acted so well that he was almost unrecognizable from the regular attitudes he’s known for. 

The voice actors for both Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth respectively, both had great performances for such iconic roles. Both worked extremely well for their roles, and I never felt like there was a problem with either or they didn’t fill the voice of the characters. 

The theme of the movie is you can always think for yourself and make the right decision, regardless of the situation. Pinocchio is challenged with fame by Honest John, peer pressure from Pleasure Island, and selflessness and bravery from the giant whale monster, Monstro. There was a bit for both kids and parents, with there being some lessons like the always-present honesty as an important theme with Pinocchio and his nose. There is also the theme of following your dreams, present with Pinocchio’s pursuit of becoming a “real boy”.  

Pinocchio is ok. The movie isn’t anything special, and the movie feels too lackluster to stand out in the long line of remakes Disney spews out on a yearly basis.