When You Wish Upon A Star… For Another Live-Action Remake
Is Pinocchio on Disney+ worth the watch?
I saw a tweet recently about Disney not creating original stories anymore, but making things about stories you already love. This refers to the recent uptick in more IP in the theme parks and investing in more live-action remakes.
The original Pinocchio flopped as it was released in 1940 during World War II, so I can’t say anyone “wished upon a star” for this remake. But it did surprise me.
The movie stars America’s dad, Tom Hanks, as Geppetto, an old, introverted, socially awkward man with a dead wife and son. He prefers the company of his cat, Figaro, goldfish, Cleo, and his various wooden cuckoo clocks scattered with Disney Easter Eggs.
Geppetto makes a wish on a shooting star, and while that wish is unclear, we know it’s a muddled version of wishing for his wooden puppet Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) to become real. The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) grants him this wish and knights Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as his physical conscience.
On the way to his first day of school, Pinocchio is tempted to join Stromboli’s puppet show by Honest John (voiced by Keegan Michael Key) and Gideon (who doesn’t have lines). While he does initially choose to go to school instead (thanks to Jiminy’s guidance), Pinocchio gets kicked out for not being a real boy and goes back to the slimy fox and cat who plan to sell him to Stromboli.
What ensues is a journey where Pinocchio tries to become a courageous, selfless, and truthful boy despite his circumstances, and Geppetto finally faces his fears and leaves the wood-making shop to find his son.
Overall, the movie was better than I expected largely due to the cast. Obviously, Hanks is an incredible actor who adds a touch of tenderness and whimsy to every scene he’s in. And I found myself saying I was writing a review of “Geppetto,” not Pinocchio, from his star power alone.
However, it’s the supporting cast that really sparkles. Erivo stuns as the Blue Fairy. She is downright ethereal and sings the infamous “When You Wish Upon a Star,” with such poise and grace it feels like it should be the original version.
Levitt’s Jiminy is a breath of comedic relief to an otherwise dark and cautionary tale. My favorite of his quips was, “There are other ways to make a boy, but Geppetto doesn’t get out much so he used the tools he’s got.”
There was also the addition of Fabiana (Kyanne Lamaya) and her ballerina puppet Sabina, who were not in the original film. Fabiana wears a brace and can only fulfill her dream of being a dancer through her puppet. What makes her a “real” dancer is simply her belief that she is one, which is echoed through the song “I Will Always Dance.” It’s an interesting parallel to Pinocchio who is on a journey to become a real boy, which ultimately comes down to how he sees himself.
Fabiana also helps Pinocchio to trust again. While the story largely focuses on the dangers of peer pressure, it’s refreshing to see this version mention positive sources of outside influence as well.
Overall, this new cast makes it worth a watch, and its 1 hour 45-minute run time is just long enough. However, its biggest failing is that it’s a remake and thus, doesn’t necessarily justify being made.
3 wishes out of 5