Pinocchio Review

Guillermo del Toro is not one to shy away from hard themes. If you have seen any of his movies you have seen themes of death, fascism, and religion. Pinocchio is del Toro’s latest movie and even though it is based on a children’s story it is a story that explores the importance of being yourself and finding out who you are. Are there tough moments in this movie? Yes. Yes, there are and that is what makes this film brilliant!

We all know the story of Pinocchio based on the Disney movie that most of us grew up with. A puppet maker builds a boy puppet. The puppet comes to life. He gets into some trouble and ends up becoming a real boy in the end. Now, some of these aspects of the story are in this version of the movie but we get to see more of Geppetto’s backstory. Friends, if you think the first 10 minutes of a Pixar/Disney movie are heartbreaking, the first 20 minutes of Pinocchio is a punch to the gut. We are shown a side of Geppetto that is just heartwrenching.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – (L-R) Gepetto (voiced by David Bradley) and Pinocchio (voiced by Gregory Mann). Cr: Netflix © 2022

When we first meet Gepetto, he is shown cleaning off the snow from his son Carlo’s grave. The narrator talks about how the relationship between Gepetto and Carlo was beautiful. We see them playing on a swing together and Gepetto showing Carlo the ways of woodworking. Their days are spent working in the shop and Gepetto giving Carlo advice on the ways of life. Everyone looks at Gepetto as a “model citizen” and in a way envies the bond between father and son. At night Gepetto sings a song to Carlo called “My son” that I feel many parents will sing to their sons at night. Let’s fast forward to the introduction of Pinocchio.

Once Pinocchio comes into the picture we see how he is a nuisance to Gepetto. Pinocchio is not aware of his being and does things that would harm a real boy. Gepetto tries to tame the wooden boy but once exposed to the people in the village he tries harder to keep Pinocchio in check. Co-writer Patrick McHale stated that “The heart of this adaptation is that Geppetto wants Pinocchio to be someone that he is not.” We see this in the way the Podestà wants Pinocchio to be more well-behaved like his son, Candlewick. He commands Gepetto to send Pinocchio to school which leads to Pinocchio getting involved with Count Volpe and the carnival.

One major difference in this version of Pinocchio is the concept of death. As stated previously, the movie starts with Gepetto cleaning off Carlo’s tombstone. Since Pinocchio is made of wood he can not be harmed but does “die” a few times in the movie. When dead Pinocchio goes to Limbo and learns from Death that each time he dies his time in Limbo will be increased. By learning about death he starts learning about what it means to be real.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – (L-R) Pinocchio (voiced by Gregory Mann) and Gepetto (voiced by David Bradley). Cr: Netflix © 2022

Throughout the movie, we see how Pinocchio is treated because he is different and thinks for himself. As much as he tries to fit in he is treated as an outsider. The only time he feels wanted is when he is in the carnival but that is only for a short time. During his stint at the carnival, he is exploited by Count Volpe and slowly realizes it thanks to Volpe’s monkey, Spazzatura. While Volpe is trying to control Pinocchio to perform for him in the carnival, the Podestà wants him to be a model citizen and potentially join their paramilitary youth organization.

Pinocchio is a story about a father and his son. The burden a father has in ensuring his son grows up to be a good person and the burden it puts on the son to try to live up to that goal. We see that not only in the relationship between Gepetto and Pinocchio but also in the relationship between Podestà and Candlewick. As the movie moves forward we see how they are learning by trial and error what it means to be there for each other. Parenting is a hard job, and we are all learning as we go on how to be good parents.

Final Thoughts: Pinocchio is nothing short of brilliant! Guillermo del Toro’s take on the classic story takes us on a journey we are not expecting and that is a great thing. Del Toro does not shy away from tough subjects and images and that is what makes this version stand out from the rest. Pinocchio will have you talking about life, death, and staying true to yourself, long after it is over.

Kid-Friendly: Although the movie is a stop-motion animated movie it is not for all kids. Some of the topics covered might be too intense for younger viewers along with some of the visuals of the movie. I would highly suggest parents watch this first, especially if you have younger children that might want to see this. The first 20 minutes might be hard for some to see.

Violence: There is some violence in this movie. Some of these violent actions are aimed at Pinocchio and that might be a little hard to see. The character of Pinocchio is shot and dies multiple times in the movie which is needed for the story to move along. Seeing this might be shocking to some viewers.

Academy Award®-winning director Guillermo del Toro and award-winning, stop-motion legend Mark Gustafson reimagine the classic Carlo Collodi tale of the fabled wooden boy with a whimsical tour de force that finds Pinocchio on an enchanted adventure that transcends worlds and reveals the life-giving power of love.

Scroll to Top