Pinocchio is unsuitable for streaming. The live action remake of Disney’s classic film doesn’t meet the demand of the format it’s been released in. This article should be a four minute read.
Streaming, like television, demands a higher standard than the theatre and cinema. Aaron Sorkin, writer of The West Wing, said in his Masterclass that it’s easier to turn off a TV than walk out of a theatre or cinema. Going to see a play or film is coupled with the trouble and expense of buying tickets, leaving home, and maybe having dinner beforehand. So, we are usually willing to tolerate it if the story doesn’t grab us as soon as the curtain is clear. We will often stick it out and see if the play or film gets better, because of all that we’ve done just to be sitting there watching it. There’s no such deterrent if we’re sitting watching a TV or computer screen. We can turn it off, walk away, change the channel, or click exit, with little to no wasted time or effort if we see no reason to keep watching. A streamed film or episode must convince an audience to keep watching from the very beginning, because there is no other reason for them to stay.
Here, Pinocchio fails. Geppetto, played by Tom Hanks, the lonely woodcarver and father of Pinocchio, talks about how he wishes the wooden boy he carves could be as real as the son he’s lost. But there are no tears. Not a moment when his cheery face darkens with the desperate longing intense enough to make a man carve a puppet in the image of his son and wish for it to become a real boy. Hanks’s ability to plunge into the depths of a character and bring it to the surface that he’s shown in his roles as Mr Rogers and Ben Bradlee, is wasted. When Pinocchio does come to life, how he came alive, why he is alive, how he becomes a real boy, and why he should become a real boy, questions potentially each worth a scene in themselves, are dispatched in about five minutes. It sounds like being a real boy will make my father happy, Pinocchio says, plucking the reason for what’s to be his entire quest almost out of thin air. The characters appeared pushed and jerked like puppets in the hands of clumsy puppeteers to say these lines and make these choices, without concern for the why that could increase the story’s layers. There’s no reason to expect a film that’s so superficial and artificial within its first two scenes will get any better, so there’s no reason to keep watching.
Pinocchio may get better past its first scenes, but because it’s been released by streaming, there’s no reason to keep watching.