Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio - Fantasy at it's best

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio - Fantasy at it's best

The story of Pinocchio is a familiar one for most of us. We learned from the wooden puppet who desired to become a real boy that our noses would grow if we told lies. The beloved classic gets yet another retelling in Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio.


Based on the book by Carlo Collodi, adapted for the screen by Guillermo del Toro and Patrick McHale, and directed by del Toro and Mark Gustafson, the stop-motion animated film just shines with a mixture of sweetness, heartbreak, deception, regret, adventure, death, life and listening to one's conscience.


A bit darker than most children's films, del Toro sets the film in 1930's Italy. Woodcarver Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley) is fixing the church's large wooden crucifix aided by his son, Carlo (voiced by Gregory Mann). When a bomb hits the church with Carlo inside, Geppetto tailspins into an inconsolable grief.


Years later, a travelling Sebastian J. Cricket (voiced by Ewan McGregor), moves into the pine tree planted near Carlo's grave. One evening, in a drunken fit, Geppetto chops down the tree and makes the titular wooden puppet. He's a bit lopsided and only has one ear but when the Wood Sprite (voiced by Tilda Swinton who also voices Wood Sprite's sister, Death) visits Geppetto's shop, she gives life to the puppet (also voiced by Gregory Mann), tasking Cricket with guiding the youngster and keeping him on the right path.



Ewan McGregor voices Sebastian J. Cricket in "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio."  © 2022 Netflix. All Rights Reserved. 


Of course, that goes horribly wrong on the first day, when Volpe (voiced by Christoph Waltz), proprietor of a traveling carnival, and his monkey Spazzatura (voiced by Cate Blanchett) manipulate Pinocchio into joining their show. The townspeople reject him, too. After observing people in church, Pinocchio wonders to Geppetto why they seem to like Jesus on the Cross but they don't like him. After all, they were both made of wood.


Typical of Guillermo del Toro, the creature elements of the film are spectacular. Sisters Life and Death convey beauty but dread, the Black Rabbits (voiced by Tim Blake Nelson) are the card-playing gatekeepers of the afterlife, bringing Pinocchio to Death each time he meets with a mishap. Continuing with Biblical themes, there's a whole Jonah-and-the-whale bit, too, as Geppetto searches for Pinocchio, following after the circus.



David Bradley voices Geppetto and Gregory Mann voices Pinocchio in "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio."  © 2022 Netflix. All Rights Reserved. 


When Pinocchio finds out that Volpe isn't sending his earnings to Geppetto, he and Spazzatura plot mayhem, doing a poo-focused skit right in front of Benito Mussolini.


The film's voice acting is superb. McGregor narrates with humor and earnestness as Cricket struggles to impart wisdom to his wayward charge. Bradley (who played Mr. Filch in the Harry Potter franchise) brings just the right balance of frustrated parent and desperate father to Geppetto. It's hard to imagine Galadriel making monkey noises but Cate Blachett gives Spazzatura amazing sounds and voices when he speaks through his puppets.



Cate Blanchett voices Spazzatura and Gregory Mann voices Pinocchio in"Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio."  © 2022 Netflix. All Rights Reserved. 


All around, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio comes down as one of the best of 2022. Accolades from the Golden Globes and the Critic's Choice Awards have already materialized. Oscar nominations will be announced next week and I’m sure this amazing work of art will be nominated, not only in the Best Animated Feature category, but others as well.


So, let's all take a bit of wisdom from Sebastian J. Cricket and try our best, because that’s the best anyone can do.


Streaming now on Netflix.







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