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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pinocchio is a Disney classic that easily passes the test of time for a beautiful and effective lesson on the perils of doing wrong when you know better. Some scenes and themes may be intense for younger or sensitive viewers, such as when Pinocchio is kidnapped and caged, threatened with destruction, can't find his father, and nearly drowns. Pinocchio's friend Lampwick introduces him to cigar smoking but is punished for it. Kids may be disturbed by Pleasure Island, where "bad boys" are turned into donkeys and sent to work in salt mines. But overall this morality tale is a good reminder of the importance of listening to your conscience.
What's the story?
First released in 1940, PINOCCHIO tells the story of a kindhearted but lonely wood-carver named Geppetto (voiced by Christian Rub) who wishes that the wooden puppet he carved would be a real boy. His wish is granted by a fairy (Evelyn Venable) but only in part; it is up to the suddenly mobile Pinocchio (Dickie Jones) to finish his transformation to boyhood by being brave, truthful, and unselfish. The fairy gives him help in the form of Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards), his designated "guide along the straight and narrow path." But when that path is strewn with temptations to skip school and visit Pleasure Island, Pinocchio's quest to be a real boy -- not to mention his father's life -- is imperiled.
Is it any good?
Seven decades after it first came out, this Disney classic harks back to a time when the stars of animated films were the illustrators, not celebrity voice talent. More recent reissues also include digital restoration of the film's original colors, so that, for instance, scenes of various cuckoo clocks chiming simultaneously in Geppetto's workshop would be reason enough to recommend the film. The soundtrack includes classics such as "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "Give a Little Whistle" that will still be familiar to families today.
But the lessons in Pinocchio also are timeless: The same traits of bravery, honesty, and selflessness that make Pinocchio human are ones we would like our children to possess in adulthood. The downside of ignoring your conscience is rendered in a way that may be uniquely terrifying to children: how indulging in the temptations of Pleasure Island results in separation from family and utter loss of self. Though Jiminy's reassuring presence allows viewers to hope for the puppet boy's rescue, Pinocchio acts as the original Scared Straight experience for the younger set.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to "let your conscience be your guide," both in general and in Pinocchio. How do you tell the difference between right and wrong, and what do you do if you can't figure it out?
How are smoking and drinking treated in this movie, and how would this be different if the movie came out today?
When Pinocchio is first kidnapped, Jiminy wants to tell Geppetto but worries about being "snitchy." What's the difference between being a tattletale and helping a friend in danger?
- In theaters: February 23, 1940
- On DVD or streaming: January 31, 2017
- Cast: Cliff Edwards, Dickie Jones, Mel Blanc
- Director: Hamilton Luske
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Puppets
- Character strengths: Compassion, Humility, Integrity
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.