After Disney’s live-action remake of Pinocchio disappointed everybody
it’s nice to say that there’s one good adaptation of Pinocchio released in 2022!
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, this stop-motion animated film has been in the making for years, even getting stuck in development hell. But it’s finally completed to the joy of every animation fan who’s been dying to see it!
Read on for my thoughts on the film!
(Caution, there will be some spoilers!)
The first thing to keep in mind is that this isn’t Disney’s Pinocchio! This film is more in line with the original novel by Carlo Collodi, at least in terms of tone.
An old Italian woodcarver named Geppetto, voiced by David Bradley, has a young son, Carlo, voiced by Gregory Mann, whom he loves very much. Carlo is well-behaved, polite, and assists his father when he goes out to work including helping build a big statue of Jesus Christ for the local church.
Carlo is sadly killed though when a warplane drops a bomb on Geppetto’s village during WWI. The loss hits Geppetto incredibly hard and he spends years mourning for his lost son.
One day after drinking his sorrows away, he gets so angry that he chops down a tree and carves a wooden boy from it to represent Carlo. Unbeknownst to him, a wood spirit, voiced by Tilda Swinton, gives the wooden boy (now named Pinocchio) life. She appoints a travelling cricket, Sebastian J. Cricket, voiced by Ewan McGregor, as Pinocchio’s guide to help him make the right choices in life and promises Sebastian a wish to be granted in the future.
When Geppetto sees that Pinocchio has come to life, he’s understandably frightened. Much of the rest of the story is about the developing relationship between the two. Geppetto takes a while to accept Pinocchio as his son as Pinocchio is so different compared to Carlo and Pinocchio takes a while to be a son to Geppetto and goes to great lengths to prove it.
Let me first talk about what I liked about the film. The stop-motion animation is impeccable! This type of animation always amazes me and gives me so much respect for stop-motion animators! The textures on the characters look so well-defined and it’s hard to believe these aren’t drawn or CG characters!
I also think the first 15 (or so) minutes of this film (basically until Carlo dies) is one of the best openings of an animated film that I’ve seen in a long time! It draws you in, gets you invested, and you start feeling for the characters. The themes of this film are also very heavy and interesting including death, loss, and grief.
The voice acting is also overall very good in this film, especially that of David Bradley! If he doesn’t get nominated for an Annie for this performance, I’m gonna be really disappointed!
Now let me talk about what I didn’t like about the film. My main issue is that the character of Pinocchio is SOOO unlikeable and annoying! But this isn’t anyone’s fault; rather this is true to how the character is portrayed in the original novel. We can see exactly why Walt Disney had to clean him up for his film adaptation!
Basically any time the film focused on Pinocchio (which is most of the film hence the title), it’s just so hard to root for the character. Had this film made Geppetto the main character instead (which it kinda did for the beginning of the film), it would have been so much more tolerable.
Also, this movie has very weird song segments! Literally every song is weirdly written as well as weirdly sung! The lyrics and accompanying music behind each song just never seems to fit and the singing by any of the characters sounds like a rough draft at best!
This film also does what the Disney remake did and gives us an ending where Pinocchio doesn’t transform into a real boy because it wasn’t deemed necessary. I get why they wanna push that message, but I feel this undermines the whole point of the Pinocchio story!
All in all, this is a good adaptation of Pinocchio and while not a masterpiece, it’s a pleasant surprise after watching the Disney remake!