Have the Disney characters done something to bitterly offend the pop culture gods?
Because lately the industry has been portraying them as bumbling, humorless, but instead – interacting with all the races on the planet characters who don’t have anything to hold your attention.
They are just images on a mission to navigate a racial diversity fiasco to teach you that there are darker people who inhabit this earth.
But even the sea of modernized live-action films so far seems not to have been enough to clear Hollywood’s conscience of the decade-long neglect of black and Latino actors, for which “Disney” also picked up Carlo Collodi’s classic tale – “Pinocchio”.
At first reading, the production should not be passed lightly, because Robert Zemeckis is behind its direction. The man who left “Back to the Future” and “Forrest Gump” on the cinema.
In addition, Tom Hanks plays Geppetto, and for him even people who follow his career from top to bottom know that dramatic images fit him like a glove.
Hopes for a quality, updated adaptation of “Pinocchio” remain in vain, however, because even the entire galaxy of Hollywood stars pouring into the film cannot fill the gaps of the rotten original idea.
It’s obvious that Zemeckis didn’t have much to add to the already existing versions of the animation, but instead of stopping for time, he released two actresses of color to testify that his work is not 100% pointless.
There is no word for a new creative approach.
Like the marionette at the center of the story, the remake is stuck in the middle ground, where it’s neither true to its roots nor relevant enough for modern audiences. It feels more like an exercise in racial diversity on screen than a well thought out concept that will give you a new perspective on the classic.
You probably know the story well, but it’s still negotiable. “Pinocchio” is an instructive story that warns children that they should not run away from school, because otherwise they will become criminals or, even worse, actors.
The original included a bunch of events that were supposed to scare the kids – kidnappings, enslavement, etc. Their intention is to demonstrate that if you skip class to chase fame, nothing good awaits you.
The moral lesson in Zemeckis’ version unfolds through the eyes of the marionette “Pinocchio” – a doll created by the lonely carpenter Geppetto (Tom Hanks), who one night wishes the toy to come to life. The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) hears his words and immediately rides the wish-fulfillment express to touch Pinocchio with her magic wand and turn him into a partially real boy.
To deserve human flesh, the puppet must prove that he is brave, honest and selfless, and the cricket Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) helps him with the task.
In the subsequent adventures of the wooden puppet, Zemeckis and the co-screenwriter of the new “Pinocchio” Chris Weitz faced the biggest challenge – the source material of Carlo Collodi needs to be lightened, because in its authentic form it is not for small children.
One viewing would scar their psyche to such an extent that they wouldn’t dare show their noses on the street.
Thus, on the one hand, the Zemeckis-Weitz tandem tries to honor the original by following the plot points of the fairy tale, but on the other hand, it seeks to sugarcoat some moments so as not to traumatize its viewers. The result is a hybrid of animation and real actors, which lacks the most essential – empathy for the characters.
A painted Pinocchio will hardly move anyone, even though he is tricked, kidnapped, attacked and sold into slavery, simply because he is a sketch and by default lacks the emotional expressiveness for which the audience would feel sorry for him.
It’s the same problem with the animated Jiminy Cricket and The Blue Fairy – technology makes them soulless.
But even leaving aside the lame interaction between animation and reality, the new “Pinocchio” will still lack something key – a reason to exist. Zemeckis has followed the original letter by letter, adding very minor episodes that connect the tale to the modern day.
One moment is the presence of actors of color, and the other is a reference to bullying on social networks. Other than that, the new “Pinocchio” is a double of all the other versions we have already seen and know.
The moral lesson also remains unchanged – it’s important to be honest and listen to your parents, but surely its power would be much greater if it wasn’t delivered in pixels.
In his desire to spare the darkness of the tale, but at the same time stay true to the messages from Carlo Collodi, Robert Zemeckis has sent “Pinocchio” into no man’s land.
It’s not an animation, it’s not a live action version, it’s not modern, it’s not old fashioned, and the only reason you’re watching the movie is if you’ve always wanted to see the Blue Fairy with a darker skin tone.
“Pinocchio” is available on the streaming platform Disney+ from September 8.