Movie Review: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)

The stop-motion animated musical fantasy Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (B+) co-directed by the titular moviemaking wunderkind and Mark Gustafson is not only a gorgeous creation to behold but deepens a timeless tale’s themes about the father-son bond. Set in 1930s Fascist Italy, the film’s every frame reflects meticulous craft and intrigue; and the sentimental story comes to life in unexpected and lyrical ways. The directors start pulling the heartstrings immediately in the prologue by depicting time spent between lonely woodcarver Gepetto and the son he lost before willing a merry marionette to life. David Bradley and Gregory Mann are solid in the father-son voiceover roles, and Ewan McGregor as a charming cricket is a spry standout in an ensemble including Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett and Christoph Waltz. The movie takes viewers to some familiar and exotic locations, with just enough change of venue to keep an oft-told story fresh. Alexander Desplat’s score is quite lovely too except his full-out songs which are more wooden than the protagonist puppet. The fable outstays its welcome a bit, and the title character could have used a central nervous system stimulant; but it’s largely a technical marvel with solid heart.

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