Pinocchio

Movie review by
Nancy Davis Kho, Common Sense Media
Pinocchio Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Disney masterpiece is darker than you may remember.
  • G
  • 1940
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 34 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Pinocchio learns in the roughest of circumstances what happens to little boys who aren't brave, truthful, and unselfish. He's tricked, cheated, lied to, and kidnapped, sometimes with his own consent, as he ignores his conscience (as embodied by Jiminy Cricket). Ultimately he learns what it means to be a good, "real" boy. Humility, compassion, and integrity are additional themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pinocchio learns the importance of listening to his conscience and always trying to do the right thing. Jiminy Cricket tries his best to teach Pinocchio right from wrong and to keep his charge out of harm's way. Geppetto is a kind and selfless man, rewarded for making so many people happy by being given a real son in the form of Pinocchio. Bad guys are manipulative and creepy, but they're clearly evil.

Violence & Scariness

A character shoots a gun when he thinks an intruder is in his house. Young boys are shown fighting each other and destroying a mansion. Cartoonish violence throughout: Characters fall, run into each other, hit each other in the face. 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.

Sexy Stuff

Jiminy Cricket places his hand on the rear end of a female statue, realizes what he's doing, and says, "Pardon me...."

Language
Consumerism

Decades after the film was released, "Pleasure Island" became an adult-themed part of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Plenty of tie-in merchandise available.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Geppetto smokes a pipe in bed. Kids are shown smoking cigars. Pinocchio is shown smoking cigars but becomes sick after taking too long of a drag. He also is shown drinking beer with another boy and acting intoxicated. Other characters are shown smoking cigars and drinking beer while in a tavern, including a cat who hiccups and looks and acts intoxicated. Stromboli takes lengthy swigs from a bottle of wine. One of Geppetto's cuckoo clocks shows a drunk puppet holding a bottle of alcohol as he lurches during every sounding of the hour, and another cuckoo clock features two men clinking their beer-filled mugs together.

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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2 and 7-year-old Written byMithrinIstari February 16, 2019

Disturbing

I watched this movie as a young child. While rewatching it with my own children I was disgusted and horror struck and turned it off. Smoking and drinking is one... Continue reading
Adult Written byjbarling December 17, 2010
Wow, I wish I had watched this again before letting my kids see it. Or I wish I had at least checked here and read the parent reviews first! Won't ma... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bydisneylove April 28, 2015

Teaches powerful lessons, darker film.

Looking back at this movie from your childhood may bring up more than just nostalgia. The themes in Pinocchio are somewhat terrifying for smaller children. But... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMariodude23 May 14, 2010

Like most early Disney flicks; it's not for the younger crowd.

While it is nice for kids to have the message of obey your parents, and to have a hero as helpless and easily manipulated as them, it is not for them. Disney mo... Continue reading

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?

  • How do the characters in Pinocchio demonstrate humility, compassion, and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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