Two hours of movie magic.
This Friday I watched Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, and I have to specify that version because there’s been roughly two hundred thousand Pinocchio movies released in the past ten hours. Being a simple children’s story that is also in the public domain, every shmuck with a budget of a Little Caesars Pizza and a team of East Asian near slave labor capable of punching out crappy 3D animation has been making their own terrible adaptations to sell to the likes of Tubi. Like all the awful Finding Nemo ripoffs.
But this is Guillermo Del Toro and not that Oscar baiting shmuck Tom Hanks, so it must be good, right? Right. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro who needs no introduction and Mark Gustafson who HBN viewers may remember as the director of The PJs and the Mr. Resistor films, Pinocchio is a story we all know and some of us even love. It’s the tale of an old carpenter Gepetto (David Bradley) who tragically loses his son to the great war, and in his sadness builds a new son out of wood. Through the grace of the Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton), Pinocchio is given life as a young boy played by Gregory Mann.
It goes without saying that Del Toro’s Pinocchio looks beautiful. The film is nearly two hours long of stop-motion animation, and the whole thing is absolutely gorgeous. Alexandre Desplat contributes the movie’s impressive soundtrack. Ewan McGregor plays Sebastian J. Cricket with Burn Gorman playing a priest, and Finn Wolfhard playing another boy because of course Finn Wolfhard is in a movie. I’m just kidding, I’m sure he’s a fine person.
I’d be remiss without mentioning Christoph Waltz playing the antagonist owner of the carnival that Pinocchio is tricked into, being just as devious and conniving as you’d expect Waltz to play. And Ron Perlman is here as Podesta, a fascist government official who sees Pinocchio as the perfect soldier because he can’t die.
Unsurprisingly Pinocchio is a very charming and enjoyable movie. It’s impressive how much Del Toro and Patrick McHale interweave death and grieving into the story, not to mention the overt fascist imagery of World War 1 era Italy and even including Benito Mussolini himself into the mix voiced by none other than Tom Kenny. Pinocchio isn’t just unique in that he’s a magical boy made out of wood, but he’s also a free thinker in a society where independent thought is increasingly considered to be a bad thing. Fascist Italy needs endless loyalty.
It’s hard to find a bad moment in the movie, and while it is on the longer end it doesn’t necessarily feel like a two hour film. It’s kind of amazing that Netflix released this given the overt Christian imagery, and it does make the Disney live action adaptation feel all the more embarrassing and pathetic. I won’t be watching that because I refuse to view any recent drama starring Tom Hanks, the miserable bastard.