In a strange quirk of streaming schedules both Netflix and Disney Plus have offered a new take on the classic story of Pinocchio this year. And while Disney’s live-action remake of its beloved 1940 animated movie was met with barely a shrug, Netflix’s reimagining of the wooden-boy-made-real is making significantly bigger waves.
Helmed by visionary director Guillermo del Toro, Pinocchio is climbing up the Netflix most-watched list. Currently, it ranks at No.3 which is no small feat considering the competition. At the time of writing it’s the highest-ranked Netflix Original movie on the platform and is only behind Bullet Train and Prisoners — two very different movies to Pinocchio, but both equally worth watching.
What is Guillermo del Toro del Toro’s Pinocchio about?
Guillermo del Toro’s take on Pinocchio takes inspiration from two primary sources, the original 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, as well as the 2002 design of the beloved character by American artist Gris Grimly. This certainly isn’t a retelling of Disney’s animated feature from 1940.
Of course, the core of the story is the same as both are adapted from Collodi’s novel. This new spin on Pinocchio still centers on a wooden marionette magically coming to life in order to mend the heart of a grieving woodcarver named Geppetto. And, yes, his nose does grow whenever he tells a lie.
But in classic del Toro fashion the movie also packs some dark fantasy elements, but the tone is primarily whimsical in nature. And the stop-motion animation is truly gorgeous making each scene a joy to watch unfold. Plus, there are plenty of well-known names in the voice cast including Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Ron Perlman, Cate Blanchett and Finn Wolfhard.
What do critics say about Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio?
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is enjoying a rave reception from critics. On the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, the movie currently scores a hugely impressive 97% from 215 reviews, and its audience score is a respectable 85%. These scores have earned the film a “certified fresh” seal and see it rank as one of the best-reviewed Netflix Originals of the whole year.
Clarisse Loughrey of the Independent was most enchanted with the film’s stop-motion animation: “Del Toro has embraced the poetry in craftsmanship and ushered in the most beautiful stop-motion animation film in years.” Meanwhile, Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post praised the movie for its “huge emotional payoff.”
USA Today’s Brian Truitt was similarly enthusiastic about Guillermo del Toro’s latest film calling it “the most essential adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s novel since Walt Disney’s 1940 cartoon masterpiece, with a practically perfect mix of tragedy, comedy, adventure, parental worries, societal expectations, childhood precociousness and antiwar leanings.”
Brian Lowry of CNN offered up a more negative review, they said “It’s an intriguing but ultimately muddled departure, grounding a story associated with fantasy in grim historical reality.” But overall Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio has enjoyed near-universal critical acclaim.
The strong response from critics stands in stark contrast to the reception that Disney’s live-action Pinocchio film endured earlier this year. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, the film pulled a disappointing 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and its audience score of just 29% wasn’t much better.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio — stream or skip?
While not technically one of the best new Christmas movies for 2022, if you’re looking for a movie that the whole family can enjoy over the holidays, then Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio should be at the very top of the list. Its combination of charming characters, stunning animation and a (mostly) whimsical tone is sure to delight viewers of all ages.
It’s also a great palate cleanser if you were disappointed by Disney’s latest attempt to remake one of its beloved animated classics. Overall, Guillermo del Toro appears to have delivered Netflix one of its strongest original movies of the year, and perhaps a front-runner for Best Animated Feature at next year’s Academy Awards.
There’s been plenty of talk about the lack of quality original movies on Netflix this year. But to give credit where it’s due, the streamer appears to have a real crowd-pleaser on its hands here.
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Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.