Making the Grades
In this version of the classic story Pinocchio, the thrill of becoming a real person extends to all cast members, as the popular trend to create live action movies from previously animated stories continues. Martin Landau plays Geppetto, the elderly toy-maker, while Jonathan Taylor Thomas is only heard as the voice of the computer animated Pinocchio until the final scenes when the puppet becomes a real boy.
All the great moral assets of the original story -- the importance of working hard, being honest and getting a good education -- are in this version of Pinocchio, making it worthwhile viewing for most children. Unfortunately, the contrast between good and bad doesn't seem as apparent, as the little wooden boy in this version is too nice to be put through such tough love lessons.
One example occurs when the local hooligans tempt Pinocchio into accompanying them to The Island of Lost Boys, where school and rules are as extinct as the dodo. Pinocchio, still mourning over having to leave his father, seems to follow the boys as a way to seek friendship rather than looking for trouble. This blurs the lesson of right verses wrong, and leaves you confused as to what Pinocchio is up to.
A small amount of violence may bother young viewers. Two examples are when Pinocchio is taken away from his father in a heated court scene, and later a boy accidentally shoots Pinocchio, leaving holes in his wooden body, which he promptly begins using as a flute. Otherwise, foul language and sexual topics are non-existent.
Aside from entertainment value, to really appreciate what Pinocchio is trying to say, children need an interested parent watching the movie with them. Try and explain the story to your children and help them understand the consequences of the choices Pinocchio has made. It's unfortunate, but this movie splinters the valuable lessons from the original story into many pieces, and your children may need your help glueing it all back together so that Pinocchio can become a real joy.