Pinocchio Is Dead Wood

Critics say live-action remake with Tom Hanks lacks the spark of Disney's 1940 classic
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2022 12:45 PM CDT

If Pinocchio claimed that Disney's new part live-action, part-animated remake was getting universally positive reviews, his nose would get a lot longer. The Robert Zemeckis-directed movie currently has a score of 31% at Rotten Tomatoes and 41 at Metacritic. Critics—many of them using wood metaphors—say that while the visuals are impressive, it lacks the spark of Disney's 1940 classic. Stars include Tom Hanks as the woodcarver Geppetto, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as the voice of Pinocchio, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the voice of Jiminy Cricket. Four takes:

  • Amy Nicholson, New York Times: "Boy oh real boy, is the script by Zemeckis and Chris Weitz a lifeless chunk of wood," she writes. The 1940 cartoon softened Carlo Collodi's 1883 story, but now, "he’s been flattened out of having a personality at all," she writes. "His lumpen goodness turns the hot-tempered fairy tale into a dull after-school special about peer pressure, which seems to suggest that Geppetto should have just carved himself a helicopter to parent the boy."

  • Brian Lowry, CNN: Live-action remakes should bring something new to the material, as Disney has successfully done with several recent remakes, but that didn't happen here, Lowry writes. Pinocchio "doesn't ever really feel like a live-action movie, in part because of the look and computer-animated rendering of its title character," he writes. "Instead, it's almost like a reverse Paddington film, with a few live-action figures—most notably Hanks' Geppetto—dropped into an otherwise animated setting, with even Figaro the cat sporting a distracting CGI look."
  • G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle: "There are some bright moments," Johnson writes. "The production design by Doug Chiang and Stefan Dechant is solid, including an exquisite re-creation of Geppetto’s Rube Goldberg-ish cuckoo clocks. Gordon-Levitt’s Jiminy Cricket is a delight." But overall, Johnson writes, "it’s virtually a beat-by-beat remake of the original, but without the original’s energy and movement."

  • Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: "Why remake the 1940 original, which is a great film, beautifully animated, scary, and fun?" Goodykoontz wonders. "It’s not like Tom Hanks was looking for work." He writes: "What’s really missing is the sense of magic. Some films feel like classics from the start. Others don’t. The new Pinocchio falls into the latter category. Watching it makes you believe sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone."
Pinocchio premiered on Disney+ on Thursday. A rival project, Guillermo del Toro's stop-motion animation version of the story, will be released on Netflix in December. (More movie review stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.