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Del Toro grows a new Pinocchio

Like him or not, Pinocchio and his sprouting nose flourish like weeds in the movie industry, where yet a second version this year alone pops out on screen. Both takes come from Oscar winning directors. Forest Gump’s Robert Zemeckis blends real life Tom Hanks with computer graphics in his reworking of the 1938 animated classic on the Disney-Plus streaming service. Meanwhile Guillermo del Toro takes the kind of darker spin expected from the teller of such tales as Pan’s Labyrinth and Shape of Water. Despite the chance to hear the marvelous Cynthia Erevo sing “When You Wish Upon a Star,” the Disney sanctioned remake feels tepid, especially compared to del Toro’s energized revisioning that features even more songs and includes the fun of hearing Ewan Macgregor sing to the images of a cricket song and dance number. Del Toro’s use of music aims his project towards kids, but he goes beyond the Pinocchio basic lessons of “don’t lie” and “stay in school” by moving the story into a Fascist era. Great for kids, right? Well, Pinocchio never made it easy for the younger crowd, what with boys reflecting their behavior by turning into jackasses or getting swallowed by giant ocean creatures. Kids might quake a bit more in del Toro’s version, but cinema fans find visual splendors from a master of the macabre.

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