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Pinocchio (G)
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Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 1940 (long before I was born). I must have seen it when I was a kid in the 80s, on VHS or something. I finally watched it again on Blu-ray in 2022. (It came with a DVD, which is the format I watch more often, but I decided to watch the Blu-ray for this movie because of the Blue Fairy.) It's definitely a classic, being the second animated feature by Walt Disney. And it was a great critical success (it currently has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes). But it's not something I ever remembered much about, and I'm not sure how well I'm going to remember it now that I've seen it again. Probably better than before, but while I definitely liked it, it's not among my favorite Disney movies. I liked the animation and a lot of the details, and the humor, but the story overall was somewhat underwhelming, for me. Still, I'm glad to have seen it. It's certainly iconic, as are some of the songs. Most notably "When You Wish Upon a Star", which has become very symbolic of Disney. It's used in the theme parks (though I've never been to any), and I associate the tune with The Wonderful World of Disney (mainly in the 1980s), and the tune is also commonly used along with the Disney logo at the start of a lot of movies.

It takes place in a small Italian village in the 19th century. There's a woodcarver named Geppetto, who has a pet kitten named Figaro and goldfish named Cleo. He carves a marionette boy and names him Pinocchio. Later, he wishes on a star for Pinocchio to become a real boy. That night, a Blue Fairy (i.e., a fairy in a blue dress) shows up and brings Pinocchio to life, though he's not yet a human, he's still made of wood. She says that if he proves himself to be brave, truthful, and unselfish, he might someday become a real boy. And there's a cricket named Jiminy Cricket, who the fairy assigns to be Pinocchio's conscience. Unfortunately, Pinocchio doesn't always listen to Jiminy.

When Geppetto sends Pinocchio to go to school, he is instead conned by a fox named Honest John, and his companion, a cat who never talks. (Wikipedia says the cat's name is Gideon, though I don't recall ever hearing that in the movie. But I might just be oblivious.) They convince Pinocchio to become an actor in a puppet show run by a man named Stromboli, to whom they sell Pinocchio. Jiminy tries to warn him not to become an actor, as he seems to have a disdain for the profession, which I consider ironic because of course all the characters in a movie like this are played by actors, right? Anyway, the puppet show is a great success, which convinces Jiminy he was wrong, so he leaves. (In the show, Pinocchio sings a song called "I've Got No Strings", which I guess is also a bit iconic. I can't hear the song now without thinking of its use in a commercial for Beats by Dre.) But Stromboli locks Pinocchio in a cage, which Jiminy eventually discovers, and tries to help him escape, but fails. Luckily for them, the Blue Fairy shows up to help out. She asks Pinocchio what happened, and he lies a great deal about it, which causes his nose to grow. The whole growing nose thing is itself pretty iconic, one of the things I remember most about the character, so I'm a bit surprised that it only happens in this one scene. But after awhile the fairy returns his nose to normal, and frees him from the cage. But she says that's the only time she can help him.

Honest John and Gideon are then employed by a coachman to send disobedient boys to him, so he can take them to Pleasure Island. And before Pinocchio can get home, they take him to the coachman. Pinocchio meets a boy named Lampwick, who is a very bad influence on him. Once again, Jiminy decides to give up on Pinocchio, until he finds out that the captured boys are being turned into jackasses. I guess that's kind of a pun, because they're given free rein to do as they please at the amusement park on Pleasure Island, and they are said to make jackasses of themselves, by smoking, drinking, committing vandalism, etc. So... I have no idea how that expression turns into literal reality, but it's scary. So Jiminy goes back to help Pinocchio, who has already started turning into a jackass. (Unlike the other boys, he only grows donkey ears and tail.)

Pinocchio and Jiminy manage to return home, but find Geppetto's house deserted. A letter is then delivered to them by some magical means, presumably from the Blue Fairy. It tells them that Geppetto, Figaro, and Cleo have been swallowed by a whale named Monstro. So Pinocchio goes to try to find Monstro and rescue them. Eventually he is also swallowed by Monstro, and comes up with a plan to free them. After they get free, Monstro chases them, but they finally manage to escape, and Pinocchio sacrifices himself to save Geppetto from drowning. Geppetto takes him home, and mourns his apparent death. But then the Blue Fairy shows up to bring him back to life and make him a real boy. So, there's a happy ending, but I'm not sure how deserved it is. Certainly Pinocchio has proved himself unselfish and brave, but it still seems to me to come incredibly soon after he first came to life, and after he became a liar. Maybe he never would lie again, but I just feel like more time should be needed to be sure of that, considering how prone he has proven himself to making mistakes. But maybe I'm being unfair in my assessment, I don't know. I also feel like Jiminy hasn't been a very faithful conscience, considering how prone he is to giving up on Pinocchio. (I'm also not sure how to feel about Jiminy having such an eye for the ladies, even when they're inanimate objects.)

So, anyway... Pinocchio suffered a lot, so I feel sympathy for him, but at the same time I'm not sure how valuable his good behavior is if he's just trying to avoid more suffering. The one thing I can really give him credit for is saving Geppetto, in the end. And that's a pretty big deal, I admit. In any event, the whole story's pretty weird, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I can enjoy weirdness in my entertainment. I'm just a bit iffy about how entertaining it actually is, in this case. But again, I want to say that I did like the movie. It probably deserves a higher rating than I've given it, even if I'm not sure it deserves as high a rating as some people would give it. But to each their own. You know, maybe I shouldn't even say I'm not sure how much I liked the story. I think it's more a matter of how much I care about the characters, particularly Pinocchio himself, which... isn't a lot. I like Geppetto, more or less, and I think Jiminy is fairly amusing, but I don't feel like we get to know any characters well enough to be super-invested in what happens to them.

I feel like mentioning that there have been any number of adaptations of the story of Pinocchio, though I'm not sure how much any of them owe to Disney's version. They could just be based on the same story that this movie was based on, rather than on this movie specifically. But I should at least mention any other Disney properties that are related to the story. In 2000, "The Wonderful World of Disney" released a TV movie called Geppetto. And in 2022 there was a live-action remake. You might also include Pinocchio's appearances in the TV series Once Upon a Time.

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