When You Wish Upon A Star: Pinocchio

While being self-quarantined, we are all looking for different ways to occupy ourselves. I have decided to watch all the theatrically released Disney animated films offered to me on Disney+, in order. Of course I can’t just let that be it, so I will be writing a little something about each of them

I have always been annoyed with the number of “C”s in Pinocchio’s name. There’s no reason to have more than one. I blame Geppetto. That old ass, Italian woodworker has way too may extra letters. What I’m trying to say is last night I watched Disney’s Pinocchio and here’s what else I have to say about it. Also, Jiminy Cricket calls him Pinoke at one point and I turned on the subtitles to see how they spelled Pinoke. It made sense and I was not disappointed.

So this old, Italian woodworker makes a marionette. He is so thrilled with his work and so lonely that he wishes it was a real boy. I don’t think he has totally thought this through. Kids are a pain in the ass. I watch my friends raise theirs, and I can’t imagine being old and raising one. But it’s what he wants so who am I to judge.

Geppetto makes a wish upon a star, which brings a fairy down while he sleeps to make his dream a reality. I am thoroughly impressed with the Blue Fairy. She doesn’t just make him a real boy right away. She has these stipulations in order to help keep us free of another shit bag human. You often hear people say there should be a test before someone can become a parent, and this is the closest we have to that reality.

So Pinocchio is made half-real and sent out to experience the world and told to make the right choices. A bunch of wild shit happens and he makes poor choices, but ultimately does the right thing by the end. It’s like going off to college.

This movie was way more frightening than I remembered. How is Stromboli not talked about more when discussing scariest Disney villains? He is a large, boisterous man who kidnaps a child, locks him in a cage, then threatens to turn him into fire wood. That is some evil god damned shit. Then there’s the moment Lampwick turns into a donkey. Donkeys are dumb, docile animals, but holy hell is that a scary ass noise he makes. On top of all this there’s the entire third act with the whale. Scary shit here I was not totally prepared for.

Part of this fear is created by the animation. This movie appears darker than Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The animation is also more crisp, and much more details are put in. I remember being in awe with shadows. It’s such a tiny detail, but it makes a world of difference. I completely understand our director kicking himself over forgetting the cat’s shadows in Catastrophe!. It’s little things like this which has caused Disney to be so dominate in animation for so many years.

Oh and holy cow the underwater scenes are some of the most incredible animation I have ever seen. This was 1940. I’m not totally sure what that has to do with anything, but it seems like an impressive feat for the time. I like it more than the underwater animation of the Finding Nemo franchise.

Now here’s the question that continued to pop up while watching this movie: what is this world? When we enter, it’s an old, Italian dude making a marionette. His pets seem to understand him and the world around. So far pretty standard fare. Then there’s a cricket who can talk and dresses as a hobo, and a puppet brought to life by a fairy. Starting to get a little weird, but still fits the magical realm of cartoons. It’s when Pinocchio and his talking cricket pal are making their way to school and they meet a five foot tall, smooth talking, conman fox in a suit and his similar dressed cat pal. These are the only two anthropomorphic beings living in a world of humans. Or a world of men, I just realized I don’t recall seeing any real women, other than the Blue Fairy, in this movie.

OK, so we have a couple of animals talking and existing in this world. Where did they come from? How come they weren’t chased down and destroyed by a mob? But let’s ignore them, like everyone else does, and look at Pleasure Island. Who made this? How and why do they maintain it? There are some very specific designs to the buildings, and giant interactive statues that will give away things like cigars. There’s beer just for the taking. There’s an entire area, which includes a big ass house, just to be destroyed. Also, there’s spittoons. Destroy this building and do what you want, but do not spit on the ground!

Why does this place exist? Was this built by The Coachman just to make donkeys, which he then sells to finance this donkey making island?

What is this world?

This is a very weird story and a frightening movie. The animation is incredible, and Jiminy Cricket and “When You Wish Upon a Star” have become incredibly iconic. It was fun to watch, but I’m also ok if I never see it again.

Other Thoughts:

  • There is a song about whistling in this movie as well as in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. What’s with the whistle obsession?
  • When Pinoke lies and his nose grows, which only happens once yet becomes a defining characteristic of the character, a nest with two eggs that hatch appears. Pinocchio’s lies can produce birds. That is amazing!
  • Jiminy Cricket is unbelievably thirsty for wooden ladies. There’s like 4 or 5 wooden female figures he is smitten by.
  • Red Lobster Inn, did this give the idea for Red Lobster restaurant chain? Probably not.
  • “I’d rather be smart than be an actor.”
  • Was Geppetto ultimately the “grandfather” to Skynet?
  • Which day would Pinocchio celebrate his birthday? When Geppetto made him? When the Blue Fairy brought him to life? Or when he became a real boy?

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