Guillermo del Toro and co-director Mark Gustafson have decided to adapt one of the more legendary fairy tales that has fueled the imaginations of children since it was first published in 1883. Now while Disney has reigned as what was previously considered the definitive version of the story for decades, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t at all time for a fresh new take. And also considering that Disney failed to renew their hold with their mostly dull “live action” remake this year, I applaud Del Toro and Gustafson for delivering a new exciting and thoroughly entertaining adaptation that is sure to be a joyful experience to both adults and children.
Not too much is different with the story here. Geppetto (David Bradley), a skilled and talented, but lonely, Italian woodcarver who yearns for the wife and child he lost years ago. A powerful and empathetic fairy (Tilda Swinton) desires to offer Geppetto the happiness he once had by bringing to life a pinewood puppet he carved by hand. Though initially shocked and frightened by the sentient puppet, he begins to grow quite fond of the rambunctious and michievous Pinocchio (Gregory Mann). However, parenthood is never easy, and Geppetto must remember how to raise a son in the particularly difficult climate of fascist Italy. Thankfully, he has some help from the earnest Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor), an intelligent and resilient insect who also fancies himself as a writer.
Del Toro, who co-wrote the adapted screenplay with Patrick McHale, does an exceptional job of adapting the story of Pinocchio and launches the tale into heights never previously achieved by other versions. The screenplay delivers a wonderful mix of comedy, heart, imagination, commentary, songs, and music. Del Toro, Gustafson and their team of talented animators work some incredible visual magic with some outstanding stop-motion animation to bring this story life.
And the talented voice actors are the ones that bring it all home. The movie features fantastic voice work by Gregory Mann, David Bradley, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, Burn Gorman, and John Turturro. However, it is Ewan McGregor who is the MVP of the movie as Sebastian J. Cricket. McGregor makes the supporting cricket the brightest and most exciting and entertaining star of the show.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is getting a limited theatrical release right now, but will also be available for streaming on Netflix starting on December 9, 2022. It is a lovely animated fantasy I must highly recommend.