Pinocchio Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About Guillermo Del Toro's Animated Netflix Film

Pinocchio in Pinocchio.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Pinocchio is getting a lot of attention from filmmakers this year. Just a couple of months after Disney+ released its live-action remake starring Tom Hanks as Geppetto the woodcarver, famed director Guillermo del Toro has joined forces with Mark Gustafson to debut his stop-motion animation film, which premiered at the BFI London Film Festival on October 15. Reviews for the live-action Pinocchio were less than stellar but, now, critics have had the chance to weigh in and add to what we know about del Toro’s Pinocchio ahead of its release to viewers who have a Netflix subscription.

Newcomer Gregory Mann voices the titular puppet that comes to life, and he’s surrounded by some heavy hitters in the Pinocchio cast, with Ewan McGregor voicing the role of the wise cricket and David Bradley (Harry Potter franchise and Game of Thrones) as Geppetto. They are joined by others including Cate Blanchett, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Perlman, Tilda Swinton and more. Pinocchio’s trailer showed off some gorgeous stop-motion animation, so let’s see what critics think of the finished product.

Ayomikun Adekaiyero of Insider says the musical numbers are disappointing, and the themes of war and death might be too dark for younger children. However, the directors have succeeded in spinning the classic story into an updated cautionary tale for parents, saying: 

The original tale may be a cautionary tale for children against disobedience. Del Toro spins it around onto parents warning them to show their children that they love them no matter their flaws and hope, as Jiminy says in the movie, that they are trying their best.

Leslie Felperin of THR calls the film “perfectly imperfect,” noting that this remake puts back in some of the darker elements of the source material that was sanded down in the 1940 Disney animated film. Guillermo del Toro’s hand is felt in every frame of this movie, the critic says: 

From the supernatural creatures with uncanny peepers scattered about their bodies — like one of the most famous monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth with eyes in its hands — to the carnival settings that recall his last feature, Nightmare Alley, and the watery realms echoing The Shape of Water and other back-catalogue efforts, the film sometimes plays like a greatest hits album of del Toro tropes. The auteur’s passionate fans, whose number is legion, will likely swoon over the self-quoting; more critical, less indulgent viewers might find this self-referencing a distracting sign of grandiosity or even just laziness.

Rafael Motamayor of IndieWire grades the movie an A, saying that the Oscar-winning director is able to take the oldest form of animation to new places and, like the movie itself, breathe life into inanimate objects. According to the review:  

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio reimagines the classic fantasy tale through the most beautifully-made stop-motion animation in years, a powerful and life-affirming father-and-son story about acceptance and love in the face of pain, misery, and fascism, and the filmmaker’s love of monsters in what is easily his best film in a decade.

Damon Wise of Deadline, however, says he wasn’t moved by the experience and feels the film maybe goes too heavy on the macabre. He argues: 

For all its heartfelt homilies, however, Pinocchio is a strangely unmoving experience, and the intermittent musical numbers are nowhere near as memorable as the animation. Fans of del Toro’s effortlessly brilliant visual style won’t be disappointed, but like last year’s Nightmare Alley there are perhaps too many surface details and flourishes when what it really needs is a little more charm and wonder.

Nicholas Barber of The Wrap says the filmmaker celebrates disobedience in this passion project, which is comparable to his past works with its themes of death, grief and a misunderstood monster. He says:

It’s intense, creepy, often harrowing stuff, so you can see why del Toro has said in interviews that his Pinocchio isn’t a children’s film. But that doesn’t mean that brave children, and brave adults, won’t adore it. Del Toro and his co-writers, Patrick McHale (Adventure Time) and Matthew Robbins (Crimson Peak), balance the more hellish misadventures with chirpy humor, Alexandre Desplat’s songs are sprightly fun, and the Ray Harryhausen–worthy models have a folksy, old-world charm and a limber grace. Stop-motion movement has rarely, if ever, looked as natural.

The reviews seem to be mostly positive, as all of the critics are pointing out how much this story clearly meant to Guillermo del Toro. However, we still have a little while to wait before we can check out his adaptation. Pinocchio is set for release on Netflix on Friday, December 9. In the meantime, check out our 2022 movie release schedule to see what’s hitting theaters soon, or check out the best movies available on Netflix right now. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.