tek's rating: ¼

Geppetto, on ABC
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Caution: spoilers!

This aired in 2000, and I'm sure I wanted to see it at the time, but I didn't get a chance to watch it until 2022. Unlike the 1940 animated film Pinocchio, this story is shown from the perspective of Geppetto, the toymaker who created the marionette Pinocchio. The movie has a lot of songs, which I mostly found just sort of okay. But I enjoyed the story and the acting, in some ways perhaps even more than the 1940 movie, though ultimately I rated it a bit lower than that movie because it's not so iconic.

So, we first see Geppetto (Drew Carey) on a day that he opens his shop to sell his new toys, and all the children of the village are excited, but the parents not so much. Geppetto laments not having any children of his own (and thinks the people who do have kids don't deserve them). So, when he wishes on a star for Pinocchio to become a real boy, the Blue Fairy (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) appear and grants his wish. At least, she brings Pinocchio to life, but he's still made of wood. (I thought the makeup that made the child actor look wooden weren't great, but also not bad.) The fairy says that Pinocchio could someday earn the right to become a real boy. Geppetto is at first happy to have a son, but he soon becomes irritated at the boy's incessant questions when he should be going to sleep. And on the following days, Pinocchio shows a propensity for causing mischief. But it's not always his fault. When the local schoolteacher, Signora Giovanni (Ana Gasteyer), wants to send Pinocchio home for fighting with one of the other students, it turns out Pinocchio was just taking something Geppetto said to him too literally. I thought Geppetto should have accepted some of the blame for that, but he entirely blamed Pinocchio, and punishes him. Geppetto is also upset when Pinocchio says he has no interest in becoming a toymaker, like his father. And that's another thing that bugged me about Geppetto.

Anyway, Geppetto goes out searching for the Blue Fairy, wanting her to fix the problem she had created. But she makes it clear the problem isn't with Pinocchio, though Geppetto still refuses to accept that. When he gets home, he finds that Pinocchio has run away to join the puppet show of a man named Stromboli (Brent Spiner). The one song in the movie that originally appeared in "Pinocchio" is "I've Got No Strings", which Pinocchio sings in Stromboli's show, and he proves very popular with the audience. After the performance, Stromboli locks him in a cage, planning to take Pinocchio with him to tour other villages. Geppetto comes to give his son a couple of toys, but Stromboli says Pinocchio left to go see the world (which I thought was a bit of a strange lie, since he would have seen the world anyway if he traveled with Stromboli). So Geppetto goes off looking for him, though Stromboli sent him in the wrong direction. After Geppetto leaves, Stromboli discovers that Pinocchio has somehow escaped from the cage (how he did this is never explained). So he goes looking for him, as well. He discovers that Pinocchio has gotten in a coach that his heading for Pleasure Island, and follows him there.

Meanwhile, Geppetto meets a magician named Lazardo (Wayne Brady), who isn't any good at magic, but is good at making toys. He's only trying to be a magician because his father had pressured him into it, and Geppetto immediately gets that that's not a good reason to choose a particular career. It takes him just a bit longer to realize it was exactly what he'd been doing to Pinocchio, so he finally starts to get that he was at least partly at fault. Later, Geppetto comes to a town called Idyllia, where all the children are extremely well-behaved. He thinks that's how children should be, until he discovers that they were all created with a machine to be "perfect", by a man named Professor Buonragazzo (René Auberjonois) and his son. (I have no idea if he had created his son the way he does all the other children in the village, or if he had been born naturally. But I'm guessing the former.) This freaks Geppetto out, and he realizes he doesn't want a child made by a machine, he just wants his own son back.

Eventually, the Blue Fairy shows up to inform him of Stromboli's lie, and that Pinocchio had in fact gone to Pleasure Island. So Geppetto goes there to get him back. The place is like an amusement park run by a ringmaster (Usher). After Stromboli gets kicked out of Pleasure Island, Geppetto follows Pinocchio onto what appears to be a ride, but turns out to lead to an area where the boys on the island have all been turned into donkeys, to be sold. Unlike the old movie, Pinocchio turns completely into a donkey. The donkeys are being shipped by boat, and Geppetto follows in his own little boat, but ends up being swallowed by a whale. Before long, Pinocchio is also swallowed by the whale, but has become a wooden boy again due to his sacrifice of trying to save his father. They come up with a way to get out of the whale, which involves lying to intentionally grow Pinocchio's nose. And they return home. But Stromboli shows up again, with a contract Pinocchio had signed. Geppetto offers anything and everything he has in exchange for his son, but Stromboli refuses. That is, until the Blue Fairy appears and turns Pinocchio into a real boy, who would be of no use to Stromboli. And it turns out she'd really been waiting for Geppetto to become a real father to Pinocchio before turning him into a real boy. It was Geppetto who had to earn it, rather than Pinocchio, and that's something I quite liked about the movie. And I don't know what else to say.

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