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Everything The Critics Got Wrong About ‘Pinocchio’

I was able to watch the gleefully mesmerizing Disney remake that was Robert Zemeckis’ Pinocchio. I was enthralled by Zemeckis’ iteration. 

Richard Schertzer
Richard Schertzer
October 7, 2022
5 / 5
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5 / 5
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So many remakes and so little time. A few weeks ago, I was able to watch the gleefully mesmerizing Disney remake that was Robert Zemeckis’ Pinocchio. I remember watching it with my mother who grew up with the animated Disney version and we were both enthralled by Zemeckis’ iteration. 

However, after I looked at the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I was quickly flummoxed as to why it was poorly received by critics as the film was labeled soulless, miscast, and unnecessary. Of course, any and all movies are unnecessary because nobody is holding a director, producer, or studio at gunpoint telling them to make a film or else! 

I digress. The critics, nevertheless, lambasted the film and some even claimed that it was creepy in its execution. Let’s take a deep dive into everything the critics got wrong in this live-action Disney remake.

Casting the Blue Fairy

Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy

Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy

A lot of the criticism about this remake has come from the casting of Cynthia Erivo. This sparked outrage from a slew of people. Much like The Little Mermaid, the casting decision has led to many people claiming that the Blue Fairy was not black but white. I say that doesn't matter because it is a fictional character not based around any geographical domain. 

It’s very disgusting and regressive that people are so offended by a simple race-swapping of a character whose background we don’t even know and whose race was never really that important for it to remain stagnant. Luckily, the film is already out and nothing can be changed about that. It sounds like these criticisms are coming from a very personal place. 

Unnecessary Remake?

Tom Hanks as Pinocchio's creator/father

Tom Hanks as Pinocchio's creator/father

Critics have continued to call this film an unnecessary remake to be made. I respond with, “On what grounds?” and I’m not ashamed of it. It is nobody’s responsibility or right to assume that a movie that they had no part in should not be touched. I can guarantee the majority of these critics are speaking from a purely nostalgic place with very little room for an open mind.

If I have said it before, I will say it again. Just because it is a remake does not mean people should be writing it off as inferior. Nobody gets to make that decision and after 82 years, maybe it’s time for the classic to be revamped. 

Soullessness 

Disney remake vs. Del Toro iteration

Disney remake vs. Del Toro iteration

In the Rotten Tomatoes consensus, critics have slammed the film for being soulless. However, that is another criticism without merit or proof. After I saw the film, I noticed that every frame was so magical and beautifully captured that it nearly brought me to tears. I felt so emotional over the wooden puppet’s performance coupled with Tom Hanks' Gepetto. 

Moreover, the fact that people have said the Disney remake’s design is creepier and inferior to that of Guillermo Del Toro’s version tells me that people are still scorned about Disney remaking old properties. I certainly hope people get over this and wake up.

Portrayal of Pinocchio and its Disability themes

The puppet as he appears in the film.

The puppet as he appears in the film.

In a twist of fate from the animated version, Pinocchio goes to school as his father instructed only to be thrown out for being a puppet. After being rejected, he goes with Honest John to get famous at Stromboli’s theater. This iteration sees the puppet as less trusting of people and seems to only go along with other people because of peer pressure. 

Moreover, because he is wooden he is not like most children, which, in today’s society, would mean that he has a disability. Luckily, the film paints a picture where Pinocchio is not defined by his limitations which works to his and the movie’s advantage. It teaches people to not only be true, brave, and unselfish but also to not be limited by how people perceive you.