Spoiler alert! We’re discussing important plot details and the ending of Disney + ‘s new “Pinocchio” remake.
The world’s most famous wooden boy is getting a computer-generated makeover.
Disney is dipping back into its well of animated classics for “Pinocchio” (streaming now on Disney +), a live-action remake of the studio’s 1940 movie. The film, which has just 30% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, follows a puppet named Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) who comes to life thanks to the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo). And with the help of his “conscience di lui,” a cricket called Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), he learns how to be brave, truthful and unselfish.
Robert Zemeckis directs, reuniting with his “Forrest Gump” star Tom Hanks, who plays Pinocchio’s woodworker father Geppetto. Here are the biggest changes between the original and new films:
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No, you don’t have to worry about Jiminy Cricket doing TikTok dances. But Zemeckis and co-writer Chris Weitz do attempt to modernize “Pinocchio” with some social media-friendly references. Before duplicitous fox Honest John (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) sells Pinocchio to traveling puppeteer Stromboli (Giuseppe Battiston), he promises the wooden boy riches and stardom, telling him to abandon school and become “an influencer.” He later suggests stage names for Pinocchio, one of which is Chris Pine (of “Don’t Worry Darling” fame).
There are some updates that are less groan-worthy, such as Geppetto’s myriad cuckoo clocks that adorn the walls of his workshop. Many of them depict scenes from beloved Disney movies such as “The Lion King” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” There’s also a “Toy Story” -themed clock of Sheriff Woody: a sweet nod to Hanks, who voiced the cowboy character for four films.
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The movie adds a handful of new characters to the story, including a street-smart seagull named Sofia, voiced by Lorraine Bracco (aka Dr. Melfi on HBO’s “The Sopranos”), who helps Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. The most prominent fresh face is a young girl named Fabiana (Kyanne Lamaya), who dreams of dancing despite wearing a metal foot brace. Pinocchio meets Fabiana and her ballerina marionette, Sabina (voiced by Jaquita Ta’le), when he joins Stromboli’s puppet show, and the fast friends eventually reunite after escaping his evil clutches di lui.
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Hanks’ Geppetto gets new songs
Three of the original movie’s standout songs are thankfully intact: “When You Wish Upon a Star” (belted beautifully by Erivo’s Blue Fairy), “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee” (sung by Key’s Honest John) and “I’ve Got No Strings “(performed by Pinocchio and a host of dancing marionettes). The movie sadly omits two tracks, “Little Wooden Head” and “Give a Little Whistle,” while adding four new ones: two ditties spoke sung by Hanks’ Geppetto, a ballad for Fabiana, and a sinister song-and-dance number for The Coachman (Luke Evans) as he lures Pinocchio and children to Pleasure Island.
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Pleasure Island no longer serves cigars, beer
If you’re anything like us, you’ve been scarred since childhood by the animated movie’s depiction of Pleasure Island, where bad boys smoke cigars, pound beers and play pool before turning into donkeys. The scene in the live-action film is still pretty traumatizing, as Pinocchio’s slick-talking companion Lampwick (Lewin Lloyd) begs for his mother di lui as he transforms into a braying burro. But tobacco has (unsurprisingly) been axed for this new version, and multiple characters clarify that their foamy drinks are in fact “root beer” and not alcohol.
Pinocchio may not actually become a real boy
Zemeckis’ film follows most of the same beats of the 1940 classic while adding a brief backstory for Geppetto, who models the Pinocchio puppet after his late son. Pinocchio also discovers he has uncannily fast-moving feet, which he can rub together to spark fires and even use as a sort of motor to help propel boats forward.
The biggest change from the original is the ending. In the animated movie, Geppetto returns home with a lifeless Pinocchio after escaping the whale. The Blue Fairy then revives the puppet and turns him into a real boy. But in the new movie, it’s Geppetto who is feared dead, before Pinocchio’s seemingly magical tears bring him back to life.
As father and son walk along a beach, Jiminy Cricket says in voiceover that no one actually knows whether Pinocchio ever became a real boy – although, there’s a brief glimpse of him without wooden hinges in his legs just before the film goes to black. Regardless, Geppetto still loves him for exactly who he is.
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