I don’t think Pinocchio (2022) is completely lifeless. But sanitisation does remove much of the heart of the original story.
Pinocchio (2022) Synopsis
A remake of the 1940 golden age Disney classic, Pinocchio (2022) follows the one-day misadventures of the magical boy puppet of the same name. Wanting no more than to be a real boy for his father/maker, Pinocchio repeatedly gets duped by unscrupulous characters who just wants to make money by exploiting him. But the misfortunes also teach the boy puppet the all-important lessons of bravery and heart.
Previously, I’d begin such a review by saying it seems just yesterday that I watched Matteo Garrone’s 2019 adaptation of Pinocchio. How time flies, blah blah blah.
Time still flies; by the current looks of it, faster than ever! But I think we also have to accept that remakes are now part and parcel of the cinematic world. My guess is that soon it’d just be three to four years before a remake is in pipelines.
Yup, that will likely happen, despite such remakes usually receiving less than enthusiastic support or reviews. In the case of the Mouse, i.e., Disney, I wouldn’t be surprised that by 2025, we have alternate, perhaps VR versions of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc.
Moving on to Pinocchio (2022), I frankly did not find this live-action cum CGI remake as terrible, or as lifeless, as many reviews put it. Yes, it’s indeed rushed, with more emphasis on showcasing the visual splendours Disney (money) is capable of too, rather than meaningfully exploring the boy puppet’s journey from object to soul.
Sanitisation of certain story elements and simplification of important supporting roles also removed much impact from the tale. For example, I do not understand the decision to butcher the Blue Fairy’s involvement. The same goes for Honest John and Gideon. Doing so removed the moral pillars Pinocchio is struggling between.
(And why was the all-important nose scene so drastically changed? Getting your nose long seems to be a good thing now)
But perhaps Disney’s message is that the modern world is less black and white. Traditional representations of good and wickedness are no longer reliable, not that they have ever completely been in the first place.
The above aside, this remake features several genuinely dazzling visual moments and a catchy new song by Kyanne Lamaya. The amazingly realistic rendition of Pinoke also impresses with its texture, animation, and sheer, sheer adorability.
The latter made me briefly consider placing an online order for a replica, because which middle age unmarried dude wouldn’t want a boy in the bedroom, I mean, a boy puppet collectible. Given it’s Disney, such a merchandising objective was likely in place.
The World of Classic Storytelling vs The World of Wokeism
An online review that I read before watching the movie praised a key change in the remake. As in, how Gepetto was given a more complex backstory. How he wanted a son because of some family tragedy in the past, rather than simply wanting a son.
Wait, that sounds convoluted, so let me be more specific. The reviewer thinks it’s an improvement to depict Gepetto as wanting another son because his human one presumably died. This removes the creepiness of an aged toymaker just wanting to have a young boy around in his workshop cum bedroom.
To be very honest, the original premise never struck me as disturbing or sexual. This perhaps has to do with me being Chinese. In Chinese culture, not having a “son” around in your old age is considered a grave misfortune, a sort of karmic punishment.
Disney’s decision to change the story this way is likely an overt acknowledgment of modern sensibilities, or complexities, or “wokeism.” This is repeated in their decision to tweak the Pleasure Island sequence. No more beer and cigars! It’s just root beer. (Which I drink a lot)
I do not condemn these decisions; they could be to avoid ugly lawsuits. But I’ll highlight that I enjoyed the 2019 Italian adaptation way more because more darker elements of Carlo Collodi’s original story were preserved. Through that, the underlying message of the story stays emphatic and affecting.
Down the road, I hope we never reach the point where nothing unbecoming or ambiguous can be shown on film because some groups insist doing so will bring on apocalypses. I believe such a situation is irredeemable even by a magical blue fairy.
Read my other snappy movie reviews.