BY KYLE LESNAK
Pinocchio: A True Story is one of the three Pinocchio-related films coming out in 2022 and is by far the most basic of the bunch. With prominent voice actors like Tom Kenny and Pauly Shore, it just might be able to face the competition, right?
After the great inventor, Geppetto, fixes a wand for the wizard Lucilda, she grants him his wish and gives life to the doll he made, Pinocchio. Thus begins Pinocchio’s adventure that wildly diverges from the traditional story most people are familiar with. After hiding away from the cops, Pinocchio and his horse Tibalt stumble upon a circus where one of the carriages almost falls off a cliff before Pinocchio steers it away. After they make it to safety he meets Bella, the ringleader’s daughter, but one of the crewmembers, the cat, shoots him after Pinocchio scared him. His wooden body protects him, and he finally meets the ringleader of the circus, Mojafocco, who invites Pinocchio to join his group after thinking about how much money they can make from a wooden doll performing in his show. Geppetto reluctantly agrees, Pinnochio and Tibalt join them and after their first show is such a success; the next show is completely sold out. This reveals that Mojafocco plans to rob everyone’s house while they’re distracted by the show. Bella overhears this, and after Pinocchio reveals his feelings for her, she rejects him in hopes that he would leave and the show would never go on. One of the circus clowns tells the heartbroken Pinocchio about a wizard that might have the power to turn him into a real boy, and he starts to believe that’s the reason he was rejected. After Mojafocco’s goons tease him about thinking he had a chance with Bella, he makes up his mind and sets off with Tibalt to find the wizard and become a real boy.
For years Pinocchio has been such a recognizable character, but how much of that comes from Disney? Disney has by far made the most iconic form of Pinocchio, but he’s actually had many different forms over the years. This film takes a unique spin on the character and makes him extremely acrobatic, and it gets rid of the now iconic ability to grow his nose when he lies. But that kind of makes him feel like some kid. He isn’t popular in the circus because he’s made of wood–it’s because of his acrobatic abilities. Outside of the one time he’s shot, he never really feels like a doll. There’s even a point where he falls into a pit of fire and somehow comes out in one piece. And his motivations are all over the place. In the beginning, he desires to see the world but almost immediately after joining the circus it all centers around being with Bella. And while some of the voice actors do a pretty good job with the characters they’re given, some sound flat and uninterested. Shoutout to Pauly Shore for breaking the internet with his unique take on the character. The animation at the very least isn’t bad, there’s even sometimes when it surprises me with how good it looks. But it also has some parts that look extremely off.
For an animated film in 2022, it feels very lacking. This film just felt like a way to ride on the hype of Disney’s own Pinocchio movie coming out later this year. This could have been about a boy who wants to go on an adventure and it would be the same movie. It’s just lacking something that lets it shine. I wish they put more focus on Pinocchio’s wish to travel instead of swapping it for a love interest. I think a Pinocchio film that doesn’t focus on him wanting to be a real boy could be really interesting, but sadly this film fails to deliver on that.