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Live-action 'Pinocchio' comes up short of 1940 Disney classic

pinocchio poster.jpg
Posted at 10:15 AM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 10:15:11-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — In some ways, this new, live-action take on the character Pinocchio is a metaphor for Disney's game plan, which seems to be to remake all of its animated classics as CGI-live-action hybrids.

Just like the plan, the movie knows all the words and music. But it doesn't take a Blue Fairy to look into his hollow eyes and realize that he has a long way to go before becoming a real boy.

Shiny, slick and blessed with a high-powered voice cast, the new movie — due out on Disney+ Friday — traces the outline of the 1940 original, sprinkling in a few ideas of its own.

Since it hews so close to the original, the movie manages to tell a delightful and heartwarming tale. It also boasts stunning visuals and has a few jokes with modern twists thrown in to freshen up the material.

The best thing about the film is that it will lead viewers to the original. Some questionable changes to the script awkwardly attempt to freshen things up, but many of the alterations — including an odd decision to do away with the original ending — are changed for the sake of change.

Director Robert Zemeckis gives the film the polish of a professional, eliciting spirited performances from his cast.

Tom Hanks plays Geppetto, the amiable and naive woodcarver who is so lonely that he crafts a wooden boy to keep him company.

Benjamin Evan Ainsworth voices Pinocchio with self-aware pizzazz, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is barely recognizable as Jiminy Cricket.

Keegan-Michael Key makes a stark impression as Honest John, the devious red fox, and Cynthia Erivo brightens up the screen as the Blue Fairy.

On the spectrum of live-action remakes of Disney classics, "Pinocchio" ranks somewhere in the middle on the spectrum. It lacks the vivacity and majesty of, say, "The Lion King" but has a lot more going for it than the likes of the bland "Dumbo."

But most anyone who says they prefer this new "Pinocchio" to the original will see their nose start growing.

RATING: 2.5 stars out of 4.

Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.