105 minutes, on Disney+
The Story: Tom Hanks stars as 19th-century Italian clockmaker Geppetto whose wooden puppet Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) magically comes to life and embarks on a picaresque quest to become a real boy.
Pinocchio continues Walt Disney Pictures’ live updates of their classic animations after, most recently, Aladdin (2019).
What can writer-director Robert Zemeckis add to Carlo Collodi’s Adventures of Pinocchio (1883), the endlessly adapted moral tale of courage, truth and selflessness?
Many, it turns out, almost all ill-advised, starting with the sight of Pinocchio crouching in the street of his village to sniff horse manure. “I can’t wait to go to school and learn what it is,” he tweets.
Pinocchio never comes to class, of course. The naive cretin is attacked by a crooked fox (Keegan-Michael Key), kidnapped by a theater impresario (Giuseppe Battiston) and transformed into a donkey, misadventures follow one another. Who still has time for manure lessons?
Many characters, such as puppet conscience Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), are CGI, and their sagacity has been contemporary with scathing social media references.
The human actors are mostly Hanks and Cynthia Erivo as Blue Fairy singing When You Wish Upon A Star from a soundtrack of original music and new compositions.
The integration between the digital and the real is particularly poor, given that Zemeckis pioneered such hybrid effects on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) and The Polar Express (2004).
Pinocchio, meanwhile, has kept the look of the 1940 cartoon version. His nose still grows when he lies – just like mine, should I say this story brought me a lot of joy.
HOT PLUG: Just watch the 1940 Disney animation.