Film Review: Pinocchio (1940)

Release Date: February 7th, 1940 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Ben Sharpsteen (supervising director), Hamilton Luske (supervising director), Bill Roberts, Norman Ferguson, Jack Kinney, Wilfred Jackson, T. Hee
Written by: Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Webb Smith, William Cottrell, Joseph Sabo, Erdman Penner, Aurelius Battaglia
Based on: The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Music by: Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith
Cast: Cliff Edwards, Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, Mel Blanc, Walter Catlett, Charles Judels, Evelyn Venable, Frankie Darro, Thurl Ravenscroft

Walt Disney Animation Studios, RKO Radio Pictures, 88 Minutes

Review:

“[after singing “When You Wish Upon a Star”] Pretty, huh? I’ll bet a lot of you folks don’t believe that, about a wish comin’ true, do ya? Well, I didn’t, either. Of course, I’m just a cricket singing my way from hearth to hearth, but let me tell you what made me change my mind.” – Jiminy Cricket

I figured that I’d followup my review of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with Pinocchio. I’m planning on working my way through all the Disney animated films of the classic hand drawn style. I think I’ll probably just do them in order, as opposed to jumping around.

To start, I’ve always liked this story more than Snow White and the animation is also a step up, as it looks more fluid, more refined and kind of pristine by comparison.

While I know that these movies have been digitally restored and tinkered with, you can still see a difference in the overall craftsmanship between the two films. And that’s not a knock against Snow White, as it is still better than anything that came before it. This is more to illustrate how Walt Disney really jumped forward with this picture.

This is also a main reason as to why I want to review these films in order, as it makes it easier to see the progression of Disney’s artists, as well as the company’s overall execution.

Apart from that, I find this to be a good, amusing and lighthearted film that has stood the test of time. It’s still funny and while it might not seem relevant, it still has lessons within it that are important for kids to learn. In the simplest terms, this movie shows kids that its not cool to lie or to be a crappy person.

The film also does a fantastic job at expressing wonderment. It’s a great adventure where Pinocchio is a fish out of water but also in awe of all the things that seem greater than himself.

It also teaches about stranger danger and how some people shouldn’t be trusted and that there are schemes and scams in the world, waiting to exploit those who aren’t careful.

I love this film. While it’s not my favorite of the classic Disney animated pictures, it is definitely one of the best of the earliest crop.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Disney’s other early animated feature films.

Film Review: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Release Date: June 22nd, 1988
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Written by: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Based on: Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Cast: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer, Stubby Kaye, Joanna Cassidy, Kathleen Turner, Mel Blanc, Joel Silver

Touchstone Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Buena Vista Pictures, 104 Minutes

Review:

“Is he always this funny, or only on days when he’s wanted for murder?” – Dolores

Back in 1988, I saw this movie in the theater. It was a pretty memorable experience, as this was an incredibly unique and enjoyable motion picture. I used to watch this a lot as a kid but I hadn’t seen it in a long time. Watching it again, I realized how much I missed this film. I mean, what’s not to like?

The film uses animated characters in a live action world. When I was young, this was a really cool experience, as I hadn’t seen anything like it before, at least not an entire movie like this. After Roger Rabbit, this would become a technique that was fairly common but this was the first movie to do it on such a large scale.

The really cool thing about the use of animated characters, is that everyone was in on the movie. For the first time, we got to see Disney characters mingle with Warner Bros. characters. One scene, in particular, has both Bugsy Bunny and Mickey Mouse on screen together. The film really is a cool crossover before crossovers even really became a thing.

Roger Rabbit stars Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd, as the main human components of the movie. The film provided iconic roles for both men and they hit it out of the park. Hoskins was tailor made to play a noir type private dick while Lloyd had the perfect balance of being sinister, chilling and completely insane when the reveal of his true identity came out.

Charles Fleischer was perfect as the voice of Roger and he instantly made this character a megastar and worthy of a place alongside the great animated stars of the Disney and Looney Tunes characters he shares the screen with. Roger truly felt like he belonged, which wasn’t an easy feat but Fleischer gave the character real life and comedic charm.

Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman wrote a great script that had elements of film-noir, comedy, fantasy and lightheartedness mixed in with some really dark material. The scene where a character gets steamrollered was pretty harsh stuff for a kid but it is counterbalanced by the fantastic absurdity of how that moment plays out. This is truly a living cartoon.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a real classic. It still hits the right notes and being a period piece makes it a pretty timeless motion picture that still works just as well today, as it did in 1988.

Rating: 8.75/10