There are around five dozen Pinocchio movies coming out this year (just kidding, there are three), but Disney’s new “live-action” remake of the classic Italian tale shouldn’t remind you of any of its wooden brothers. No, this Pinocchio (released in 2022 on Disney+, to be clear of which one) isn’t reminiscent of the one where Pauly Shore whines “Faaather,” nor is it similar to the upcoming, artistically anti-fasicist stop-motion piece put together by Guillermo del Toro.
Pinocchio, for some odd reason, reminds me of Baz Luhrmann’s completely off-the-rails Elvis biopic. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize that they are nearly the same movie.
The connection begins with Tom Hanks. Oh, Tom. Why are you disguising your beautiful self under pounds of old-age makeup, fat suits, bad wigs, bald caps, and European accents? Please, for the love of Nora Ephron, remember that it is Meg Ryan fall, and go back to your You’ve Got Mail roots. No need to be taking on roles like Gepetto and Colonel Tom Parker.
For some reason, these two roles—craftsman Gepetto and “the snowman” Colonel Tom—bear an uncanny resemblance to each other. This crossed my mind when the first trailer for Robert Zemeckis’ cursed Pinocchio crossed my screen: Is Gepetto trying to exploit with Pinocchio as Colonel Tom does with Elvis? Have we thought about the ethics behind a wooden boy?
Perhaps I should be more concerned about the real world than I should about “the ethics behind a wooden boy.” Typing such a statement will take years off my life. But this Twitter meme comparing Pinocchio to Elvis—replacing the “He’s white?!?” scene with “He’s wood?!?”—confirmed my thoughts. Disney, cut the Elvis estate a check. Or rather, Baz Luhrmann, cut the Carlo Collodi estate a check. This story dates all the way back to 1883, and you just copied it completely.
The first 15 minutes of Pinocchio are eerily similar to Elvis. Tom Hanks croaks around, talking to himself about Elvis/Pinocchio, and it’s oh-so weird. As he was flopping around in his wood shop, Gepetto reminded me of Colonel Tom meandering through an empty Vegas casino, hollow and creepy. There’s no need for bloody clowns at haunted houses this Halloween—just stick a Tom Hanks character in the mix for a real fright fest.
Then, the skinny little brunette boy comes to life. Though it began as a meme, this scene is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the “He’s white?!?” scene too. “He’s real?!?” Gepetto shouts, eyes hungry with greed. “He’s a real boy?!?”
Gepetto is more loving than Colonel Tom is; Pinocchio is his “son,” after all. But Gepetto isn’t afraid of using Pinocchio to clean the house, be his pal, and replace his recently passed real human son. After Pinocchio is swept off with a circus troupe to be used to make fame and fortune, the Colonel Tom role is embodied more by Stromboli (Giuseppe…