It’s not perplexing why Disney wants to continually mine its back catalogue, having seen the box office success of “The Lion King” and “The Jungle Book.” The more interesting feat in is finding a new story through character reinvention. Case in point: Emma Stone’s brilliant “Cruella” adaptation.
Despite the above, Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis delivers a stale revival that lacks heart, dethroning Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” as the worst use of Disney dollars aimed at revitalizing its properties.
The production spent months in London on a freezing sound stage in order to bring this utterly uninspired retelling to life. It’s no secret that Zemeckis was constantly frustrated on set, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall for his animated feature. Frequent collaborator Tom Hanks was able to escape after only a few weeks on the London set, but he didn’t do himself any favors as Geppetto. Much like in Warner Bros’ “Elvis,” Tom Hanks delivers a two-dimensional supporting performance.
Zemeckis’ film doesn’t hold a candle to the original Disney animated feature from 1940. It’s a movie caught between being real and fantasy, faltering in comparison to the original animated movie, and only proving to be garish, unlikable, and off-putting.
If you’re going to resurrect this story, at least do something different, more challenging, or more relevant to our modern culture, because Disney already made an old-fashioned, family friendly version, and just making a worse version of that is not exactly going to make that Pinocchio IP more valuable. It’s a hard pass, even if you’re streaming from the comfort of your own home.
Letter Grade: F