Saturday, January 14, 2012

D52 - Week 2 - Pinocchio

Kevin's bit

Whereas Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a very simple plot stretched and padded to the length of a movie, Pinocchio is a movie made up of four small episode-length plots. But I do think it's more engaging and funnier. For one, I like the bit where Jiminy Cricket warms his...self. Who says a butt joke has to be crude? I wonder if it was considered so back then? It turns out there are a couple of other butt jokes throughout too. Somewhat fitting for a movie whose third episode is about asses.
The first "episode" is charming and funny. Figaro's great to watch. I do tend to prefer a silent comic relief cartoon animal over a talking one. The second and third episodes...are good enough. The fourth has a short but powerful scene with enough tension to make up for the, well, lack of tension in Snow White. I've seen plenty of stuck-inside-of-a-whale scenes, but this might be my favorite.
I suppose what I didn't like were any of these attempts to teach children lessons. I don't like when people give children an imaginary reason for why they shouldn't do something - in this case, "Don't tell lies or your nose will grow" or "Don't misbehave or you'll turn into a donkey." Why scare children with untrue threats that they possibly don't really believe anyway? Just teach kids not to, say, destroy other people's property because they wouldn't like it if someone did the same to them! That's really my only beef with this movie.

-When Honest John first walks past Pinocchio, he does a double-take and is amazed at seeing a walking, talking wooden boy. It makes me wonder how the people of the village react when they first see Honest John and Gideon. Do they go, "AAGH! A giant fox and cat wearing clothes! And one of them is talking!!" I like to think that the two used to be human, but like the Pleasure Island boys they too were transformed into animals connected to their behavioral setbacks.
-Is Geppetto aware of Jiminy Cricket? I don't remember them every interacting with each other, but if Jiminy took it upon himself to introduce himself to The Blue Fairy and Pinocchio, you would think he would do the same with Geppetto. Like, "Hey, I'll help take care of your boy for you?" Maybe he did, and that's why Geppetto didn't bother to walk with Pinocchio to school?

In lieu of the favorite character/least favorite character...
Slightly old versus much, much older: I won't go on about every version of Pinocchio that's ever been set to moving images, but I just have to mention the other Disney version. I remember seeing the made-for-TV musical starring Drew Carey, Geppetto, a while back. As the title suggests, it's mostly told from Geppetto's point of view's, um, not nearly as enjoyable or finely crafted as Pinocchio. Though it features songs written by Stephen Schwartz (who would go on to write for a little ol' musical called Wicked), you just can't compete with "When You Wish Upon a Star," can you?

Overall: Though it gets a bit slow at times, I might end up listing this as one of my favorites, or at least one that I should rewatch more often. Watch it with your kid(s), and maybe afterward explain that smokers should fear emphysema much more than the prospect of growing donkey ears.

Amanda's bit

Pinocchio is most certainly a masterwork. From a story point of view, I would have loved to seen a television series especially since there were so many more stories that could have been adapted from the original source. From an animation standpoint, more stops have been invented and subsequently pulled out! The transparent and glowing blue fairy, the multiplane camera, the numerous effects shots are all as beautiful now as they were then. From a musical standpoint, the score has so many perfectly timed music cues and the songs cover so many styles and still include humor and story points.

I have to disagree with Kevin about the morality of the stories. I think it's pretty clear that the things that happen to Pinocchio would never happen to real little children, but that doesn't negate the lesson. The lesson is not to fear an actual huge nose, but to understand that a lie grows and becomes obvious and there's no point to starting it in the first place. Children may not turn into actual donkeys but they can "act like jackasses." This makes the movie an excellent jumping point for parents to talk with children about what is naughty and what is good without being too pushy. I for one approve and in any case, the movie is entertaining and that's the thing I care about most when it comes to cinema.

Tidbits: If you get the chance, be sure to find the release with the most DVD or Bluray extras. The folks at Disney really have a lot to say about this one and it's all incredibly interesting!

Favorite character: By a wide margin, Jiminy Cricket. He's absolutely charming from beginning to end. It's no wonder he makes such an excellent host for so many Disney theme park attractions!

Least favorite character: I have to go with Monstro with this one for the sheer fact that he's genuinely frightening. He's quite well animated and it's clear how dangerous he is and it's a testament to the storymen and animators, but he's just too scary for me!

Overall: I laughed a lot more than I expected to since it's been a while since I've seen this movie. If you're still a child at heart I think this movie gets better as we get older.

Amanda's Extra: Do you love my little whale? He's way less scary than Monstro was! I shall call him "Ministro."


  1. Clearly, the second and third "chapters" are the weakest links. The adorable first act and the genuinely terrifying fourth both achieve the genuine greatness that Snow White fell short of, but the second and third suffer from a not insignificant downfall: preachiness. More specifically, the fundamental emptiness of the lessons they try to impart. Pinocchio is told to do good things for no other reason than that the Blue Fairy will just shrug and let him die if he doesn't do good things, because they're good. If, perhaps, Jiminy or the Blue Fairy touched more on the effects of the good choice vs. the bad choice on other people, it'd seem like he has a less selfish reason than sheer terror to behave himself. I mean, jeez. He was just born a couple days ago, and the way she tries to teach him accomplishes little more than making the world look even more terrifying and arbitrary than it actually is.

    - If pretty much any modern film were to involve this version of Geppetto, I can't help but think that he'd be painted as a deeply creepy character, what with his love of tormenting his pets with puppets, and his clock collection (including the spanking-themed one). Actually, it's to this film's credit that he doesn't come across as particularly unsettling here, even today.
    - Figaro definitely deserves a spot on Jesse's list of the top five most adorable cats in films!
    - While I certainly enjoy the transparency effects on the Blue Fairy, I confess that I think she clashes rather noticeably with the cuter, more cartoony appearance given to all the other characters here. Yes, I understand that the contrast is what she was going for, but perhaps she should've been disproportionately beautiful in a more abstract way. It's the only visual thing I'd change in the whole film, though.
    - The lightning illuminating the lifeless dangling marionettes makes for an understated but effectively creepy shot. Nicely done.
    - I'm not sure I understand why playing pool is "evil", at least so long as there's no wagering involved.
    - Note to parents: Explain to your children that it's not actually a good idea to tie a rock to your body and jump into the ocean. Please.
    - Lots of showing off how well they can animate water in this film, to the point of seeming almost redundant. Doesn't the utterly gorgeous Monstro sequence contain enough fancy water effects for several films already?
    - POTENTIAL UNNECESSARY DISNEY SEQUEL IDEA: I dunno, maybe a midquel that would explain why Cleo and Figaro were suddenly with Geppetto inside Monstro when they were left alone at home when he first set out? Meanwhile, Pinocchio learns that failure to eat a balanced breakfast in the morning causes puppet leprosy.

  2. I'm surprised you haven't been blogging about this yourself, just since these comments seem worthy of being blog posts themselves. I wouldn't accuse you of being a copycat or anything!

  3. Yeah. Twice in a row, I've intended to be short and to-the-point, only to discover that I'm apparently incapable of doing so!


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