Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio - Everything You Need To Know

From "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" to "Mad God" to "Wendell & Wild," 2022 was an explosive year for incredible stop-motion films. And perhaps the best of the bunch was "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio." The claymation film hit Netflix on December 9, 2022, giving us a new take on the beloved children's story made famous by Disney.

Of course, the mind of Guillermo del Toro is very different from that of the Mouse House. The director — best known for his lush array of genre films such as "Pan's Labyrinth," "Crimson Peak," and the Oscar-winning "The Shape of Water" — has had his eye on this tale for quite some time. Originally announced back in 2008, del Toro has not only been in love with the "Pinocchio" story itself but has always envisioned it as an animated feature (via Art Hive).

With rich source material, a gorgeous animation medium, and one of the best directors today, here's everything you need to know about "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio."

What is the plot of Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio?

The plot of "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio," while following the general frame of the classic story, takes the tale in some bold new directions. The description of the film given by Netflix Film reads, "Set during the rise of fascism in Mussolini's Italy, 'Pinocchio' ... is a story of love and disobedience as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father's expectations." This setting, deviating from the fairytale world audiences are accustomed to, is in line with del Toro's dark, fantastical vision, staying more faithful to the original Carlo Collodi tale "The Adventures of Pinocchio," which the director described as "far more perverse and spooky" (via Art Hive).

One element it will share with the classic Disney film is that del Toro's film is a musical, with the musical numbers and the score courtesy of Alexandre Desplat (via Film Music Reporter). This marks Desplat's second time working with del Toro after winning an Academy Award for his work on "The Shape of Water" in 2017. It's also be Desplat's third stop-motion film, having worked with director Wes Anderson and being nominated for Academy Awards for the musical scores of both 2009's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and 2018's "Isle of Dogs."

Who stars in Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio?

"Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" features a star-studded cast take on these classic characters. Voicing the titular role is newcomer Gregory Mann. Mann's time working on the project was a positive one. "He's incredible. I mean, he's just as good as he sounds," Mann said in an interview with HeyUGuys at the film's BFI London Film Festival premiere, discussing what it was like to work with del Toro. "He's amazing to work with as well, he's so kind, and he brings such a nice spirit to the recording studio or the set. And he really made me look at lines and look at them into deeper context." 

Ewan McGregor stars as Pinocchio's closest ally, Cricket, and David Bradley of "Harry Potter" fame plays Geppetto, Pinocchio's creator/father. Christoph Waltz stars as the villainous Count Volpe, Cate Blanchett plays the monkey puppeteer Spazzatura, and Ron Perlman portrays the fascist Podestà. Finn Wolfhard plays the Podestà's son, Candlewick, and Tilda Swinton appears as both the Wood Sprite, who gives Pinocchio life, and the incarnation of Death. Tim Blake Nelson, John Turturro, and Burn Gorman round out the cast as Black Rabbits, Il Dottore, and the Priest, respectively (via MovieWeb).

Who directed Pinocchio?

It should be pretty obvious from the title of the film, but "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" is directed by — you guessed it — Tim Burton. Okay, we're just kidding. It's Guillermo del Toro, the maestro of imagination, who co-wrote the screenplay with Patrick McHale. Del Toro has created all sorts of fantastic and fabulous worlds, both beautiful and horrific, in films like "Pan's Labyrinth," "Crimson Peak," and the "Hellboy" franchise. We're incredibly excited to see him put his magical mind to work in the arena of stop-motion animation.

However, del Toro isn't the only one helming this fantasy film. He co-directed with Mark Gustafson, who's worked in the claymation field since the 1990s. In addition to crafting several stop-motion shorts, he served as the animation director on "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and did the character work for Huck Finn in "The Adventures of Mark Twain," a movie most famous for its horrific sequence featuring the devil. In other words, with del Toro and Gustfason as your guides, you're in for a scary yet sweet adventure.

How are critics and audiences responding to Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio?

Guillermo del Toro is one of the very best filmmakers working today. Even his less-than-beloved movies are still fascinating to behold and have their diehard supporters. So it should come as no surprise that most critics are enchanted by his take on "Pinocchio." The movie currently boasts a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 200 reviews, with the critical consensus reading, "'Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio' delivers fully on its title — which is to say it's a visually stunning adaptation that embraces its source material's darkness."

As our own Matthew Jackson wrote in his review, with the handmade artistry on display in the film, "del Toro and his collaborators have given a timeless tale vibrant, jaw-dropping new life, and in the process delivered one of the best films of the year." Jackson went on to say, "Every moment feels like you could reach out and touch it, live in it, experience it. So when the film asks you to believe in the heart and soul of a little boy who wasn't born but sculpted by human hands, you have no trouble following it down that path."

At the time of this writing, most audience members seem to agree with the overall critical consensus. Based on 50+ ratings, the film has an 85% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

What is Pinocchio rated?

It should come as no surprise that "Pinocchio" isn't boasting a big bad R rating. It's a film made for a wide audience, including children. As a result, it's rated PG. However, don't expect a film free from heavy themes. The movie earned its rating due to "dark thematic material, violence, peril, some rude humor, and brief smoking."

That dark thematic material involves the topic of fascism and the ever-looming specter of death, actually personified by a monstrous-looking character. The film also deals with the death of Geppetto's biological son and Pinocchio's cruel mistreatment at the hands of Count Volpe (to say nothing of the peril coming from the hungry sea beast Monstro).

In short, del Toro's film is unafraid of grappling with some dark topics and scary imagery. Of course, the original Disney version had a scene where a bunch of terrified boys turned into donkeys, so the "Pinocchio" tale is no stranger to darkness.

Where to watch Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

If you want to see the beauty, terror, and wonder that "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" has to present, there's only one place where you can find the film. The 2022 claymation movie is available on Netflix. The streaming site is also home to del Toro's critically praised horror anthology, "Cabinet of Curiosities," his ambitious haunted house love story, "Crimson Peak," his "Troll Hunters" adventures, and "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark," an adaptation of Alvin Schwartz's infamous tales, as produced by del Toro. In short, if you need your Guillermo del Toro fix, Netflix is a good place to go.