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    Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 85 mins . G . PAL


    For some reason the story of Pinocchio is a popular and ongoing favourite. At Disney, it’s almost a religion.

    Drew Carey, musical saboteur and comedic multitasker, plays Geppetto, the toymaker of Italy who yearns for a son of his own. So he makes himself a marionette and wishes on a star that Pinocchio were a real boy (this would appear more likely than Geppetto actually getting out there and trying to meet women, it seems…)

    Anyway, the Blue Fairy comes down from wherever the Blue Fairies live and grants Pinocchio life. All he has to do is prove his heart and he will be granted ‘real-boy’ status (except for two American states who don’t recognise ‘real-boy’ status).

    "Dad? Do we have a last name?"

    Geppetto finds raising a wooden boy not as easy as he had first thought and after some troubles Pinocchio leaves and begins work with Mr. Stromboli, a failed puppeteer who gets the crowds in with his stringless performance. However, he mistreats his little wooden boy who escapes for Pleasure Island (which sounds downright illegal). Geppetto, meanwhile, is learning what it means to be a father and gives chase, eventually ending up in the sea swallowed by a whale (creatures that are notorious for swallowing toymakers in the turgid Mediterranean). Then it’s up to Pinocchio to prove his worth etc etc. the power lies within you… blah blah… believe in yourself… blah blah… does anyone remember where we parked?

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine of Seinfeld) is the Blue Fairy and Brent Spiner (Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation) plays Stromboli and both of them, with Mr. Carey, all have a go at singing their parts. To be honest, that’s not as bad as it sounds, but with 11 songs in this whole musical, it gets a little much. While the actors are having fun, the production values of this made-for-TV affair are a little too politically correct. Stop me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that during the period in question there weren’t a huge amount of African-Italians or Asian-Italians populating small villages in Italy (this is possibly a throwback to an introduced ‘crowd-appearance’ guideline back in the ‘60s, which stated that crowd scenes of more than three people had to have at least one person of Asian origin and one of African origin. I know this was enforced in comic books of the period, at any rate, so it’s highly possible here. Or it may just be Disney’s America… in Italy).

    At any rate this is a pretty thin telling of the story behind Geppetto’s adventures in chasing Pinocchio, but inevitably it’s not all that different. Only two real incidents feature that help impress the true meaning of fatherhood to Geppetto and these are ladled on so thick that even a headless torso could understand it.

    As a musical I guess it’s got its merits and the songs are OK, but this is one that the kids, if anyone, will get into. The novelty of seeing the three leads in diverse roles compared to their usual performances wears thin after about the first five minutes and isn’t really enough to support the whole feature. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has studied the original Disney Blue Fairy to the nth degree and has a bit of fun parodying that most ancient of animations (I’m talking about Disney’s Pinocchio). But again, not quite enough to warrant full adult attention, unfortunately.


    Well, for a TV movie made in 2000 and seemingly shot to video, this doesn’t look too bad. A 4:3 ratio delivers only mild grain at times and some green screen residue at others. Colours are bright and even, but one or two minor tones down from natural, though all are even throughout. Blacks are mostly true, although occasionally a deeper green, while the limited shadow detail isn’t too bad.


    Dialogue is nice and clear, being a children’s film, and there are no issues with understanding what is said or sung. Sound effects are naturally comic overlays and this is OK for the purposes of humour. Stephen Schwartz has scored music and this is of the usual high quality of musicals with some thoroughly decent lyric writing. Musical lyrics are by nature, more complex than the average eight-word song on the radio and here they are well written and well delivered from our five or six songsters.

    Buena Vista have given us the whole audio in their usual standard of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, although it doesn’t get a whole lot to do other than the musical pieces. Considering these cover two thirds of the film, the surrounds stay fairly active and the subwoofer only lends a minor wall of depth which does manage to add to the final product. And in case you’re wondering there are 11 individual songs within this 85 minute film with any number of reprises throughout.


    Nope. Musta been swallowed by a whale because they haven’t been seen around these parts.


    For kids who are fans of musicals, this one may find itself some favour, but I found the story a little over-simplified to maintain any real depth of interest. As in Lion King 3, a familiar tale is told as the subplot here and this feature’s focus is on what was originally a backstory. Where Lion King 3 works well, Geppetto doesn’t do so well as there is hardly another story behind the original tale to be told.

    Still, the kids might like it for the silliness and the singing and dancing and bright, flashing colours. What do I know?

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      And I quote...
    "For some reason the story of Pinocchio is a popular and ongoing favourite. At Disney, it seems almost a religion… "
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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