The original 'Pinocchio' came out in 1940 and this remake doesn't stray far from the original tale featuring a woodcarver named Gepetto, a puppet brought to life named Pinocchio, and of course, his trusty conscience Jiminy Cricket. As the trio quest to turn Pinocchio into a real boy, by making him "brave, truthful, and unselfish", there are some hurdles along the way — there's Honest John, a tricky fox who tries to lead Pinocchio astray, and the evil Circus owner, Stromboli.
There comes a time in a classic Disney movie's life wherein Disney decides there needs to be a live-action remake of it. 62 years later, we've been gifted a new 'Pinocchio' — and what a gift it is. To be fair, all they had to do was wheel out a new version of 'When You Wish Upon a Star' and we'd be blubbing, but it goes beyond that and makes the film even more magical than it once was.
Tom Hanks is our Gepetto and honestly... he's perfect. We know, we know — the accent is not Italian. It doesn't quite know what it wants to be as it travels around the world in about ten minutes in the beginning. But listen, he's not your typical Disney prince type with charisma in spades and gushing "oh golly" every 15 minutes á la Mickey Mouse.
Call it what you want, but to us, his lovingness comes out in a real Irish dad way; he doesn't ham it up, but the love is there. He's got a real "keep the head down" vibe to him that we can't help but understand and fall into step with as we watch.
What doesn't fall into place so smoothly is the animation and CGI. It's a real mixed bag. In places you'd swear it was produced long before its time; The Blue Fairy played by Cynthia Erivo clunkily arrives in through the woodcarver's window as he sleeps and she's just there, plonked in as though she were an afterthought.
Seemingly, the fluffier things became the more finesse there was; Figaro the tiny black and white kitten could draw a tear from a stone, striking a perfect balance between reality and cartoon. She's so frickin' cute. Keegan-Michael Key as Honest John is a fancy fox with a fabulously detailed mane-full of secrets. Meanwhile, Jiminy Cricket is honestly terrifying; he looks like he's a stick insect masquerading as a cricket in a fake little mask.
Creepy cricket or not, it's hardly a surprise that this absolutely slapped — Disney's live-action remakes are a nostalgiac playground brought to life. Director Robert Zemeckis is notorious for turning out evergreen films like 'Back to the Future' and 'Forest Gump'. This movie feels like a warm mug of hot chocolate on a wintery day; a whismy Zemeckis is known for capturing in the likes of 'A Christmas Carol' and 'The Polar Express'.
It's got the jokes — genuine, twinkly laugh type stuff, like when Pinocchio is told that there's something suspicious about someone whose name is 'Honest John'. It's got moments that made us audibly coo, like when he starts to find a friend in a fellow ballerina puppet. It's got a positive message about the importance of following your intuition. And it's got Tom Hanks with the aura of semi-grumpy, aul Irish fella. What more could you want?
'Pinocchio' on Disney+ is out now.