A father’s wish magically brings a wooden boy to life in Italy, giving him a chance to care for the child. However, the two of them have to struggle to find a place for themselves as Italy becomes embroiled in fascism.
“People are sometimes afraid of things they don’t know.”
There have been so many adaptations of the story of Pinocchio it is hard to keep track at this point. Disney did their own live action version this year as well and I could not even bring myself to write about it because it was such a failure to me. However, when you hear Guillermo Del Toro is creating a stop motion version of the story for Netflix, that is when the ears perk up. He also worked with veteran stop motion animator Mark Gustafson on this, so clearly he wanted to make sure he did not cut any corners. But, could he find something new and interesting about this story, let us get to the ratings.
Animation – A+
There is simply nothing cooler than stop motion animation. The way it looks, the way you can almost feel it through your screen , and of course the pain staking time it takes to pull it off. Del Toro said they spent 3 years working on this with something like 60 different teams of people. The amount of effort can seem daunting but when it is pulled off in the incredible way it is here, there is nothing like it. I also thought the choice of making Pinocchio a fully wooden “thing” was an amazing choice. Lastly, the whale sequence was so stunning it is hard to remember an animation sequence that looks like that.
Voice Cast – B+
What is interesting to me about this cast is it has some of the most incredible names you can find for an animated movie: Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson. However, none of them you can tell who they are besides the cricket being Ewan McGregor. I think this shows how immersive the movie actually is without taking you out of it with familiar voices. Also shoutout to my guy David Bradley, aka Argus Filch, on being Gepetto.
Music – A
Finally a Pinocchio without the same old songs. Sure When You Wish Upon a Star is a classic and I Got No Strings slaps, but it was time for some new jams. So in comes the great Alexandre Desplat to right some great music all performed by the cast. Songs like Better Tomorrows, My Son, Everything is New To Me and all the rest bring so much new life to this story, they almost feel like new Pinocchio classics already.
Story – A-
We all know the story of Pinocchio, a wooden stand in for Gepetto’s son who wants to become a real boy. What Del Toro does is bring his Gothic energy and treat us to a spectacle not unlike the original Frankestein. Where we see this “freak” walking through the street and how people react to him. We also get to see the dichotomy of a father who loses a son and has to deal with it, and then a son who loses a father and has to deal with it. I love seeing that and again it opened my eyes to why this story has lasted the test of time. I also thought framing this around Fascist Italy was a smart diversion of the story and arguably modernizes it with comparisons to today.
*A couple other tidbits
- Cate Blanchett performed her lines while in her office on NIGHTMARE ALLEY, which I find just hilarious.
- Ron Perlman as a stop motion fascist official is perfect.
This is a beautiful film, easily one of the best I have seen all year. Somehow Del Toro and Gustafson were able to find a new angle on this timeless tale, and create a stunning world around it. I know there are some great versions, but this should be the definitive Pinocchio moving forward if we are being honest.
*You can find my 2022 Movie Rankings here.
*You can find my Guillermo Del Toro Rankings here.
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