Pinnochio. Pinocio. Pinnoccio. Pinoccio. Pinocchio.
What an annoying name to spell. But unlike Snow White, this one had what could pass as a plot.
So Gepetto… Gepeto…. Geppetto has a happy little woodcarving shop with a cute kitten and a fish. But what he really wants is a boy. Obviously. Because everyone knows that boys are more important to have than girls. Is there even a girl in the entire movie? I suppose the blue fairy was a girl. But I’m not sure supernatural girls count for much. Cleo was a girl. But I’m not sure fish count. There were some wooden dancing dolls that were girls, but I’m fair certain they don’t count either. Guess this movie just failed the Bechdel Test.
So Geppetto sees a bright star and decides to wish upon it. Because he’s such a nice guy, a blue fairy grants him his wish and gives life to one of his wooden dolls. But despite all her magic powers, she doesn’t see fit to give him the intellectual background to know what to do with his new found animation. Instead, she tells him he needs to be brave, truthful, and unselfish.
Stepping up is a homeless cricket who volunteers to be his conscious. And fails miserably.
First off, Pinocchio is supposed to go to school, but a sneaky fox named Honest John trick him into joining the theater. Jiminy Cricket instructs him to say no. But of course, the sly fox insists and Pinocchio goes along with it. Jimini takes a lapse and only catches up later. After Pinocchio seems to enjoy the theater, the cricket conscience gives up completely and wanders off.
He only comes back to say goodbye when he sees the cart rumbling by, but by then Pinocchio is already locked in a cage. The blue fairy comes and rescues him and he runs off again to go to school. Honest John decides to sell him to “the Coachman” who takes naughty boys to an island to turn them into donkeys. This happens when they act like jackasses. To promote this, the Coachman puts on a show of gambling houses, fighting rings, pool tables, homes to ransack, etc… It’s quite an elaborate production, and probably expensive. I suspect it would be cost effective to actually breed donkeys the old fashioned way. Especially given the apparently hefty bounty the Coachman paid to honest John.
Pinocchio and Jiminy escape, jumping into the ocean and happening to wash up on the beach right next to Geppetto’s workshop. They head inside to discover that Geppeto has head off in search of the little wooden boy he knew for less than a day, getting a boat for… well, who knows why his first step was getting a boat. Perhaps the Coachman’s magic island was better known than one might expect.
At this point, there have been two misadventures. One would expect that each of the adventures (and the one to come) would reflect a lesson on each of the admonitions of the blue fairy. But neither is especially selfish. Confused perhaps, but without a sense of self, one cannot be selfish. When he gets an assist from the fairy, he lies.
Thus, it would seem he failed one of the three tests and another is essentially meaningless. In neither case did they directly relate to the encounter. The story seems very loosely woven here.
But finally, there is some correlated story telling. Geppetto sets off to look for Pinocchio and is eaten by a whale. This allows Pinocchio to demonstrate bravery. Despite some loose protestations from Jiminy, he drops himself into the ocean, is also eaten by Monstro, the whale, and escapes by setting the ship on fire causing Monstro to sneeze. Not that being able to survive inside a whale makes any sense in the first place, but whales can’t sneeze in the same manner as depicted in the film.
For his heroics, failing to be honest, and not being really selfish or selfless, the blue fairy shows up again and turns Pinocchio into a real boy. Meanwhile, the error prone Jiminy gets himself a shiny gold star. I’m not sure what the point here is supposed to be. After all, Jiminy didn’t really do a good job keeping Pinocchio out of trouble. Instead, he was frequently distracted by how purdy the blue fairy was, giving up because Pinocchio was having fun, expressing reservation at heroics, and thinking a simple “don’t do that” was sufficient deterrent. I suppose the moral is that it doesn’t matter if you actually do your job, so long as something good happens at some point you deserve a gold star? I’m just not sure this plan was thought through.