We are in for TWO Pinocchio movies this year, which is two too many, between the Netflix stop-motion version of the story from Guillermo Del Toro starring Ewan McGregor, and Disney’s live-action version starring Tom Hanks. A teaser for the Disney update has dropped, and between this and whatever he’s doing as Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis, Tom Hanks is fully in his silly voice era. Here he plays Geppetto, and the voice is not as egregious as whatever that is in Elvis, but it IS a reminder that Tom Hanks loves to do silly voices, and Robert Zemeckis, director of this Pinocchio, always lets him get away with it.
Case in point: The Polar Express, in which Hanks plays several different characters and gets to do a bunch of different voices. True story, I sat in front of Hanks during a screening of Polar Express in which I finally broke and whispered, “Why does it LOOK like THAT?” to my friend, and Hanks leaned forward and said, “The technology isn’t quite there, is it?” This was early 2000s motion-capture, and NO, the technology, at least to render human faces and expressions, wasn’t quite there. (I feel like Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin is closer to what The Polar Express tried to do, even though the faces in Tintin are still pretty scary.) But Hanks was a super good sport about it, and after the film, he was very engaged in discussing the potential of mo-cap in film, and many of his predictions about how mo-cap could be integrated into live-action filmmaking have come to pass.
Anyway, Pinocchio is another Disney live-action update, though there are still many animated elements, including Jiminy Cricket, voiced here by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Also, Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy is dosed with computer magic, but her rendition of “When You Wish Upon A Star” on the soundtrack sounds nice. Other voices in the movie include Luke Evans as The Coachman, Keegan-Michael Key as Foulfellow, and Lorraine Bracco as Sofia the Seagull. Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, who played Miles in The Haunting of Bly Manor, voices Pinocchio, but he’s not featured in this teaser. We don’t even see much of the puppet, which is good because everyone knows puppets are the foot soldiers of Asmodeus and will steal your soul if you look into their hollow little eyes.
Instead, we’re treated to Erivo singing, and Geppetto wishing upon a star for his little wooden demon son to come to life, and lots of Jiminy Cricket running around, almost being eaten/squished/stepped upon. This doesn’t bother me that much, it looks like a fairly straightforward update of Pinocchio, though I’m sure Zemeckis and the folks at Disney will find some way to turn a perfectly reasonable 85-minute movie into a 131-minute slog. That’s the real crime of these Disney live-action updates. They’re all too damn long. Keep Pinocchio Short is my platform for public office. Well, one of them. There’s also Put Jon Bernthal In A Rom-Com and Tom Hanks Just Talk Normal 2022.
Attached - Tom Hanks at the London premiere of Elvis on Tuesday.