Pinocchio: A True Story (2021)

dir. Vasiliy Rovenskiy

The USA English-language dub of Pinocchio: A True Story achieved online fame when the trailer was widely shared by disbelieving viewers. “Father,” intones Pauly Shore in a robotic monotone, before culminating in a lilting whinge with “when can I leave to be on my ooowwwn? I’ve got the whole worrrld to see.” The voice acting is certainly a notably baffling part of the movie – Shore frequently sounds like he’s only just learned how to speak, to the extent where it’s easier to believe he’s trolling the film on purpose – but it’s full of other confusing choices. The dubbing doesn’t remotely make an effort to match the animation, but it’s hard to be fussed when the animation itself is so awkward and amateur that it feels twenty years older than it is; underserving the Pinocchio story’s key novelty factor, Pinocchio the wooden boy looks identical to all the human characters. Meanwhile his bland love interest sings two bland songs within the space of ten minutes, then there are no other songs until the finale. So does Pinocchio: A True Story qualify as a musical? Well, it barely qualifies as a story full-stop. At one point Pinocchio’s equine companion Tybalt boldly announces he must depart to complete an important errand, yet it’s never confirmed what he does. Characters routinely shift personalities and motivations. One person’s tragic backstory of a long-lost daughter is only hurriedly revealed in the last ten minutes yet provides a crucial plot pivot. So many weird decisions, inconsistencies, unbelievable moments – the whole film is like a giant question mark incarnate.

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