Gaming Editor Louis Wright is disappointed by Disney’s Pinocchio remake, finding it wooden and unable to live up to the original

Gaming Editor | ( ̶T̶e̶m̶p̶) Lead Developer | MA Film & Television Research & Production | BSc Computer Science | BurnFM Deputy Station Manager | Generally Epic

With the original film, Pinocchio (1940), arguably being Walt Disney’s first classic, Pinocchio (2022) has a lot to live up to, but in every conceivable way fails at portraying the story that it wants to tell. From its characters to its thematic elements, this film entirely misses the point of its own existence. 

The film struggles to explore its own messaging and thematic relevance

At its core Pinocchio (2022) wants to be a story about overcoming temptation to live a virtuous and meaningful life, with Pinocchio’s (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) development to becoming a ‘real boy’ as the framing device for this thematic through line. However, this film struggles in this regard as Pinocchio is written as a mostly static character who faces no true conflict or temptation regarding his morality. By presenting the main character in a story about moral enlightenment to have no internal conflicts, the film struggles to explore its own messaging and thematic relevance. Ultimately this creates a story that feels mostly pointless and meandering, with no strong point or idea to what it wants to be.  

Moreover, the way Pinocchio is written as a character is not only stifling to the themes of the film, but also the audience’s attachment to his character. Pinocchio is very passive in the plot of this film, having no real agency over what he does or how he ends up in the situations that he is placed in, and as previously mentioned is very static as a character, not developing over the course of the film. This means that feeling any kind of emotion towards Pinocchio is very difficult as, for lack of a better term, he is incredibly wooden. There is no clear internal conflict that he has that the audience can easily relate to, meaning that no emotions are evoked due to an inability to generate sympathy.  

The characters who are animated look out of place in the world and do not have a true physical presence when interacting with the realistic elements of the film

The visual depiction of Pinocchio, along with other CG characters like Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Figaro the Cat (Frank Welker) are also bafflingly poor. Pinocchio (2022) is directed by Robert Zemeckis, who also directed Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Due to Zemeckis’ previous work in blending live-action visuals and hand-drawn animation in said film, it is expected that the same level of care to quality would be seen in Pinocchio (2022) with the blending of CGI and live-action.

However, this is unfortunately not the case as the characters who are animated look out of place in the world and do not have a true physical presence when interacting with the realistic elements of the film. The worst example of this is with Figaro, who is consistently blended into the world with a distractingly poor cohesion, especially when interacting with Geppetto (Tom Hanks). Geppetto conveys no sense of weight to Figaro when moving him around, with Tom Hanks’ weightless movements compounded with poor tracking that cannot keep Figaro to Geppetto’s arms, never giving the impression that he is carrying an animal. 

Tom Hank’s general performance in this film as Geppetto is also markedly disappointing and far below what is usually expected for his talents. Throughout most of the film, his line delivery is completely flat, conveying none of the intended emotions and is almost as if he is simply reading off the script that he was given with no thought to inflection. This makes his performance unfulfilling and, like Pinocchio, his character unengaging. Therefore, when he does go through tribulations nothing is felt by the audience, a particular issue when his and Pinocchio’s relationship is the main emotional drive of the film. 

As a Disney musical, it is expected that Pinocchio (2022) would have a memorable score that is creative and relevant to the film’s plotline. However, none of the original songs that are featured in this film are truly memorable in the same way many other Disney songs are and are ultimately entirely irrelevant to the film as they could be removed and the film would not suffer in terms of storytelling, character development or thematic coherence. Moreover, songs from Pinocchio (1940) that are included in this film are changed in ways that do not truly improve upon them or allow them to stand on their own. 


Ultimately, Pinocchio (2022) is an excellent case study in how not to convey a moral lesson to an audience. Between poor storytelling decisions, bland and flat characters, and horrendous visuals, this film manages to miss every mark that it attempts to hit and has no clear artistic reason for existing. 

Rating: 1/10

Pinocchio (2022) is now streaming on Disney+

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