Pinocchio (2022) REVIEW – The Worst Disney Remake Yet

Even The Lion King remake feels more competent than this.


Disney has released so many live-action remakes or reimaginings of their animated classics that it’s become blatantly obvious what the problem with these films are: they’re creatively bankrupt products that pale heavily in comparison to their originals. Pinocchio doesn’t fix this problem at all — if anything, it’s a dreadful indicator that these remakes are going to continue being terrible for years to come.

Right from the beginning, Pinocchio already tries too hard, with the character Jiminy Cricket interrupting the Disney logo intro in order to sing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ and then deliver narration afterwards. Not only this, his narration also quickly drifts into him having a conversation with his past self, something that never gets revisited again in the film.

It’s a flaccid attempt at quirkiness and charm, which doesn’t work. After the first few minutes, Pinocchio goes from trying too hard to trying too little, basically giving us the story beats we’re so familiar with with no real effort. The dialogue is mostly exposition, the characters all have one-note personalities, and the film goes from scene to scene without much thought put into creative transitions.

Despite being live-action, Pinocchio features a lot of animated characters. They’re uncanny and visually unpleasant with none of them looking like they’re actually in the live-action settingm, and these animations have some of the worst voice acting the Disney remakes have to offer. It’s downright unbelievable how a live-action film so reliant on animation can allow itself to be released with such atrocious and unconvincing animation.

Jiminy Cricket is the worst culprit. He just looks appalling and freakish, almost like he belongs in a creepy movie instead. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s vocal performance is absolutely grating — the actor just doesn’t have it in him to do the role in a completely different voice from his own, especially for a character this iconic. Oftentimes, it sounds like he’s trying to parody the original Jiminy Cricket voice instead of trying to recreate it.

Then there’s Pinocchio, whose character design is hard to fault — it’s pretty much a copy-and-paste design of the original character. Unfortunately, he still never looks real and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth gives a really annoying vocal performance, trying way too hard to sound cute and innocent that it just comes off as cloying and even sometimes unbearable. Not as unbearable as Keegan-Michael Key as Honest John, though, whose voice acting is so histrionic and overdone that it makes his character incredibly hard to take seriously.

The live-action performances are even worse. Sure, there are some fine performances, but no great or even good ones. Tom Hanks as Gepetto and Kyanne Lamaya as Fabiana both give decent performances, Hanks being the better of the two. They’re far from career-bests but they’re decent and believable enough to suspend your disbelief for, save for scenes where Lamaya is supposedly doing ventriloquism.

The other live-action actors, though, chew the scenery of every scene they’re in. Stromboli, Lampwick, Coachman — these characters all feature acting more fitting for an SNL skit rather than a live-action adaptation of a beloved animated classic. Even side characters like the Headmaster or Signore Rizzi have performances so hammy they’re actively painful to watch.

Pinocchio also features some of the most uninspired and boring musical scenes from a Disney movie ever, live-action remake or not. All of them are flatly choreographed, lifelessly sung, and blandly shot — the musical numbers feel like they’re there out of obligation (after all, this is a Disney film) rather than a way of adding more joy and wonder to the film. They’re all incredibly forgettable, too. You could easily forget this movie was a musical an hour after watching it.

The only real positive this film has going for it is that it often has good-looking set designs, especially for the scenes that take place in Pleasure Island. However, while they do look nice, they also never feel convincing, looking like they belong more on a Broadway show rather than a big-budget Disney film.

All of this amounts to Disney’s worst live-action remake to date, especially since the original Pinocchio is considered by many to be one of Disney’s greatest films, animated or not. Where the original featured lush visuals and a sense of enchantment, though, this Pinocchio seems to be bored with itself, wanting to get to the end credits as soon as possible. When deciding whether you should watch the 1940 film or this one, the answer is incredibly obvious: always go with the 1940 film.

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Pinocchio is about as boring and disastrous as Disney live-action remakes get with its uninspired writing and directing, terrible performances, and horrid animation.