Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Dickie Jones, Cliff Edwards, Christian Rub, Mel Blanc, Evelyn Venable
Director: Hamilton Luske & Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: 23 February 1940
Length: 88 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“Disney‘s 1940 version of the classic tale of the wooden puppet that longs to be a real boy is one for the ages – and among the most magical animated films ever made. Aided by his friend Jiminy Cricket, the puppet Pinocchio faces many trials and tribulations on the way to making his dream come true. The film won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song: “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which became a Disney anthem.” — Netflix.com
This is a classic Disney animated feature that is actually really cute and fun, even though the story is really, really weird! To be quite honest, I am not quite sure why Walt Disney selected this particular children’s story to turn into a feature-length animated film as the story contains a full list of things that parents do not want their children to do! Pinocchio lies, cheats, steals, smokes, drinks, ignores advice from friends & family, talks to strangers, picks the worst kind of friends and almost gets his whole family killed. But somehow Disney is able to take a violent, meandering story and turn it into something cute and fun. Much of this is achieved by inserting adorable little costars such as Jiminy Cricket (a little cricket), Figaro (a cute black kitten), Cleo (a beautiful goldfish) and more. These animals and other little touches make this movie fun to watch and something memorable for children and parents alike.
One of my favorite parts takes place at the very beginning when Jiminy Cricket first enters Geppetto’s workshop. They show a huge selection of cuckoo clocks and other items that the woodcarver has made and I discover something new in the shop every time I see it. The attention to detail in this movie is really quite astonishing – especially since it was created for children. I love that the old-school animators felt like there was no detail beneath their notice and no part of the screen that would not be seen.
The music in this film is also wonderful. “I’ve Got No Strings” is one of my favorites in the film as Pinocchio tries to perform the routine he learned for the first time. It is upbeat, fun and travels around the world introducing children to different cultures (albeit the clichés of cultures). The classic song “When You Wish Upon a Star” is also contained in this movie and it is a song that I feel most Disney fans are familiar with, even if they haven’t seen this movie. The rest of the music is just as good and helps elevate the film into something special.
This is not my favorite animated feature length film put out by Disney, but I enjoyed seeing it again recently. I had forgotten how entertaining it is and how many funny one-liners there are in this movie. There are also a lot of lessons that can be learned in this movie, but may I suggest that the #1 thing you should learn from this movie is – if you have a new or young child, make sure you walk your child to school for the first several days of class. I am just saying that Geppetto could have saved a lot of time and heartache by walking Pinocchio to school that first day, pointing out which neighborhoods to avoid, telling him not to talk to strangers and to not believe everything he hears (especially if it sounds too good to be true!). Of course, there really would not have been much of a story, but then you can save the lessons about not drinking, smoking, running away from home, etc. for another time when your children are a little bit older…
Pinocchio shows little boys smoking, drinking, lying, destroying property, turning into donkeys, lying, running away from home, talking to strangers, lying, and some mild violence (mainly the stagecoach driver who helps turn the boys to donkeys & the whale Monstro). This film is appropriate for children of all ages, but you will definitely want to discuss what Pinocchio should and should not have done. I know that most kids catch the part about not lying to their parents or other adults, but there are lots of other lessons to learn about being unselfish, how to tell the truth in the midst of lies, when to ask for help, etc. Recommended for viewers of all ages.