"A lie keeps growing and growing until it is as plain as the nose on your face."
Wow. It's amazing that this movie came just three years after Snow White. There are so many things that are BETTER - particularly the character development! I think that it's in this movie that Disney really finds its voice which draws the viewer into becoming emotionally invested in the story.
The story opens with the same fairytale storybook theme, and we are immediately introduced to the characters. Clearly, Disney realized that they are good at the animal thing, because they made Figaro (the cat) so stinkin' CUTE!!! Figaro is probably my favorite character in the movie - he just has such a sassy personality! Also, I just have to say...even the goldfish in this movie was more interesting than the character of Snow White. Anyways....
Pinocchio is way darker than Snow White. There's quite a few adult themes - some of which are quite terrifying. First off, there is the whole kidnapping and child slavery aspect when Pinocchio is sold to Stromboli. Poor Pinocchio gets locked in a cage and told that once he is too old for show business, he's going to be chopped into firewood. Um...what?! That is dark stuff, people. But no - it gets even worse. The whole concept of Pleasure Island is enough to keep any kid in line. (Did Disney secretly just make this movie so that kids would behave and listen to their parents?) There is a quote that the coach driver says: "Give a bad boy enough rope and he'll make a jackass of himself." Quite literally. The transformation of Pinocchio's friend, Lampwick, into a donkey is terrifying. Imagine- these children have been turned into donkeys FOREVER. They can no longer speak, they are being sold into hard labor, and they will never see their parents or family again. Yikes.
Meanwhile, Pinocchio's father, Gepetto, is out looking for his boy. The part that always makes me sad is when Gepetto has a big, fancy meal cooked and waiting for Pinocchio after his first day of school...and then Pinocchio never shows up. The poor guy didn't even have his boy for one whole day before he goes missing. Can you imagine how painful that would be? And when they show the shot of Gepetto trudging through the streets in the pouring rain looking for his boy...oh man, that really pulls the heartstrings.
Of course, the movie ends happily. Pinocchio saves his family from the stomach of a whale and finally proves that he is worthy to be a real boy. They all live happily ever after.
Overall Grade: A
Yes, I do think that it's scary, and a little dark for a children's movie, but I just love how the character development draws us into the movie and really gets us emotionally invested.