With the live-action remake of Disney’s Pinocchio making its streaming debut, the reviews are pouring in, and it’s not looking pretty. Despite boasting the powerhouse team of director Robert Zemeckis and star Tom Hanks, this latest addition to Disney’s ever-expanding library of remakes is not winning over critics. According to critics, Pinocchio fails to recapture the art and soul of the animated classic, which is ironic for a film whose central tale is about wanting to give a heart to a lifeless object.
You can see what the critics are saying below, and maybe pour one out for Hanks, who was already dragged earlier in the summer for his odd performance in Elvis. Dude’s having a rough year.
Andrew Barker, Variety:
As with so many of the director’s previous CGI extravaganzas, all the meticulous surface detail in the world can’t compensate for the core emptiness of the film’s digital creations. Pinocchio’s naïveté, Jiminy Cricket’s avuncular haplessness, even Figaro the cat’s mischief – all have lost a noticeable degree of humanity and soul in the transition from ink to pixels. There may be no strings on this Pinocchio, but there isn’t much of a heart in him either.
Christian Zilko, IndieWire:
Casting Hanks as Geppetto is one of those creative decisions that makes perfect sense on paper, but his performance is just another addition to his recent cold streak. The actor gives what is essentially a kid-friendly version of his “Elvis” performance, playing a puppet master with an unconvincing European accent. It’s not good, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also hard to blame Hanks when he was given so little to work with.
Tara Bennett, IGN:
Creatively, it clearly wrestles with adhering too closely to the superior 1940 version while awkwardly trying to force the old-fashioned story to dip into a jarring, modern voice that is incongruous with how it firmly embraces a 19th century setting and aesthetics. The result is a schizophrenic, bland watch that feels like a big-budget movie made only for 6- to 12-year-olds.
Luke Y. Thompson, The A.V. Club:
Live-action Disney remakes are best seen as the equivalent of Broadway musical versions: they add a few new songs, toss in some contemporary jokes, and throw a ton of money at special effects. Expecting the same kind of timelessness a second time is mostly a futile exercise: the state fair might book a talented cover band, but we’re listening to the original artist in our car or at home.
Josh Spiegel, Polygon:
Zemeckis has more than enough experience in blending live actors and digital technology with past films such as The Polar Express and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But the new Pinocchio lacks soul, no matter how hard Zemeckis and his co-writer, Chris Weitz, try to will it into being through leaden dialogue where characters talk about what truly makes someone real.
Ross Bonaime, Collider:
Regardless of how great these live action remakes have been, few people would say that they match the beauty, power, or overwhelming magic of the original films. With Disney finally bringing Pinocchio to live action, the gulf between the quality of the original and the live action version has rarely been this massive.
Adrian Horton, The Guardian:
Often, it’s hard to know what to blame when the Disney live-action remakes fizzle. Is it that animation allows for a suspension of belief that human actors can’t sustain? An issue with the source material? An air of corporate strategy to the whole thing? In the case of Pinocchio, it’s a combination of all three.
Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com:
Like the titular puppet at its center, “Pinocchio” lingers in an existential purgatory. The latest live-action remake of an animated Disney classic occupies an uncomfortable creative middle ground between remaining true to its beloved roots while also aiming to be fresh for modern audiences. Familiar lines share space with snarky one-liners. It’s not just a block of wood, but it’s not a real boy, either.
Pinocchio is available for streaming exclusively on Disney+.