The Adventures of Pinocchio

Movie review by
JK Sooja, Common Sense Media
The Adventures of Pinocchio Movie Poster Image
Scary live-action version has violence, guns, and monsters.
  • G
  • 1996
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Lying isn't good, but love is. What makes a parent is the love they have for their child, not biology. Don't be tempted by riches or fame.

Positive Role Models

At first, Geppetto is unsure about his role in Pinocchio's life, but soon realizes the puppet needs his creator. Geppetto stops at nothing searching for Pinocchio, eventually getting eaten by the large sea monster in the process. Ever forgiving, loving, and protective, Geppetto is a positive role model for Pinocchio.


Pinocchio climbs dangerously on top of a building rooftop. Talk of how people used to get burned at the stake or hung. A man punches another man in the face, but the screen cuts to black before the impact. Two boys kick and punch each other. A man gets hit in the face twice with a large wooden paddle. A puppet-human gets stomped on and flattened by a giant foot. Pinocchio "stabs" the giant's foot with a wooden sword. A woman slaps the back of a man's head. A few chase scenes. A fire breaks out on stage, and Pinocchio almost gets burned. Lots of boys cause chaos at a "no rules" carnival. They throw rocks, break glass, rip books to shreds, have pillow fights. Boys shoot guns at a carnival game. Two boys also struggle over a gun and accidentally shoot Pinocchio through the chest. The boys laugh as they look at the 4 holes blown through Pinocchio. They are then rewarded by the carnival master with tickets for the roller coaster. Lots of boys agonizingly turn into donkeys. A scary man turns into a scary monster, and this process includes horrifying images of a man thrashing about in pain as he turns into a hideous creature. Later this sea monster shows up in full form, large mouth gaping, teeth humongous, and all very terrifying as it chomps down on Pinocchio. The insides of the sea monster don't look inviting either, as it is dark, red, and quite realistically the inside of a sea monster, with ribs and weird glops of flesh visible, the suggestion of blood everywhere, and scary scenes involving climbing through the sea monster's throat.


A woman's cleavage is visible for the duration of one scene. Once Pinocchio becomes a real boy, he asks Geppetto, "How about carving me a girlfriend?"


One instance of "jackass." Some kids call out to another kid, "Hey fatty." "Dimwit."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The "special" water that turns the boys into donkeys and Lorenzini into a sea monster can be seen as a magical potion of sorts, but could also be seen as water that has been drugged.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Adventures of Pinocchio is a 1996 live-action family-film adaptation of the novel, originally written by Carlo Collodi. In this wild journey of wooden boy to real boy, Martin Landau is a warm and loving Geppetto, while Jonathan Taylor Thomas is a precocious and curious Pinocchio. Some positive themes of being true to who you are, not lying, and family. Wealth and fame won't sustain you over family. Expect lots of looniness, havoc, and the standard plot points of the standard modern telling of Pinocchio (which is to say this isn't a tragedy). There's a magical talking cricket, magical water that turns boys into donkeys, and of course the magic that animates and enlivens Pinocchio. However, while the film has lots of positive intentions, much of the above, in the way it appears and is shown on screen, might be too scary for young and even older viewers. The scenes when Pinocchio first gets animated in Geppetto's workshop full of other puppets, boys get turned into donkeys, and a scary man turns into a scary monster can all frighten. In addition to lots of slapstick violence, there are chase scenes, fire, punching and kicking, guns, and fake stabbing. Two boys also shoot Pinocchio through the chest with a real shotgun. The blast leaves 4 holes in Pinocchio and the boys laugh as they "can see right through him!" Some parents might also take issue with how Pinocchio deals with Felinet and Volpe by tricking them into turning themselves into a cat and fox. Language includes, "jackass," "fatty," and "dimwit."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLebron12James3 November 30, 2021


Teen, 15 years old Written byPoppy From The ... December 1, 2021
Teen, 16 years old Written byLoranikas303 August 31, 2021

This mailbox is mine!

And this triagonal sign! That blue balloon, the month of June! They're mine, mine, mine, mine, mine!!!

What's the story?

In THE ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO, an aging woodcarver, Geppetto (Martin Landau), builds a wooden boy puppet from a magical log and calls him "Pinocchio" (Jonathan Taylor Thomas). The boy comes alive and must learn how to be a boy and what it means to have a father. But society doesn't accept Pinocchio or his creator. In his search for belonging, will Pinocchio find Geppetto? Will Pinocchio overcome all the perilous obstacles, profit-hungry villains, and dangerous creatures life throws at him? Will Pinocchio become a real boy?  

Is it any good?

This live-action version of Pinocchio from the 90s can potentially be very scary for younger and older viewers. The main problem in The Adventures of Pinocchio is that the impressive technology powering the animation of Pinocchio looks weird and is oddly off-putting for some reason, if not outright terrifying. And why is Geppetto's workshop so dark, shadowy, and framed like a horror movie? There's a fair amount of violence, some gunplay, and a rewarded shooting of another boy (a wooden Pinocchio, but still). Most disturbing might be when boys get transformed into donkeys and a man gets transformed into a sea monster. In this live-action version, human faces scream and contort agonizingly while donkey ears sprout from heads, eyes get bugged out, and monstrous-looking grotesque deformities pop up. The special effects used are certainly specific to when this film was originally released, but over time what this has done is oddly make those special effects scenes very scary. There is no modern smooth, soft, or shiny sheen to the representation of any transformation or donkey boy or sea monster (originally a "dogfish"). There are no animation or computer graphics tricks in use, which means that this version shoots for realism in its depictions of the above.

The performances are good and devoted to the period and the history of late 19th century Italy, but the writing and sequencing of the plot sometimes hold everything back. There are some logical jumps and issues of common sense everywhere, like when the film chooses when to have characters care or not about seeing for a talking wooden boy for the first time. For instance, upon seeing Pinocchio for the first time, a teacher catches him lying, which, as we all know, makes Pinocchio's nose grow, which it does. The teacher simply kicks Pinocchio out of the room. Meanwhile, Geppetto is sentenced to three years in prison for creating such an abomination. Lastly, there are a few issues of not teaching kids the right lessons. Here, Pinocchio saves the day by lying and gets revenge on his enemies by turning them into animals. Younger kids should stick with the animated version.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the live-action nature of The Adventures of Pinocchio helped or hurt the telling of this classic story. Was anything particularly odd or scary about the animation or representation of the puppets? Anything odd about how everyone reacted to Pinocchio at first?

  • How did all the violence affect your watching of the film? Did you find it excessive or justified? What about the donkey and monster transformations?

  • Do you think the main lessons of the film were successfully presented? How might Pinocchio's behavior contradict some of these lessons? Like Pinocchio's actions in the throat of the sea monster or when tricking Felinet and Volpe into turning themselves into animals?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fairy tales

Themes & Topics

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