A troublemaking puppet is granted life so he can comfort a grieving woodcarver.
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring David Bradley, Gregory Mann, and Ewan McGregor
Review by Jon Kissel
In another of those coincidences of studio groupthink, three adaptations of the Pinocchio story landed on streaming services in 2022. A Pauly Shore-starring Russian knockoff languishes on Amazon Prime, Robert Zemeckis continues his CGI beclowning with a critically panned version on Disney+, and Netflix flexes its quality control muscles with Guillermo del Toro’s version. By far the best received, Del Toro’s stop-motion film is a serious contender for a Best Animated Film Oscar, especially in a year when Disney is dragging its feet. However, Del Toro’s pet interests and style don’t work with a script that’s stuck between irreverence and historical trauma. Combined with sloppy plot mechanics and a refusal to take advantage of the storytelling elements dropped in the viewer’s lap, Pinocchio lifelessly flails around for unearned emotional power. This might be the best version of this story that came out in 2022, but when Zemeckis and his non-union Russian equivalent are the competition, that’s not much of a compliment.
Marvel Cinematic Universe directors would ideally use the clout they get from working with Disney on major projects to get their own passion projects made. The one-for-me, one-for-them system sounds like a fine way to make movies, but Ryan Coogler’s only worked on Black Panther properties since signing on, James Gunn hasn’t done anything non-comic book, and Jon Watts has parlayed his Spider-Man gigs into more Spider-Man gigs. Guillermo del Toro did it right in the mid-2000’s, translating his success on Blade II into the film that’s defined his career. Del Toro was born to make Pan’s Labyrinth, and much of what he’s made after has been a riff on its themes. A grim fairy tale set against a dark historical time brings out Del Toro’s imagination and his humanism, providing him with his artistic thesis statement.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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