Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 5, 2022

Rated PG for peril, scary moments, some language and rude material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: None at time of writing
Streaming on Disney+

This fall we are getting two new versions of Pinocchio, the story of the wooden puppet who becomes a real boy. In December we will get Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion animated vision on Netflix, but first we get this new live-action version from Oscar winner Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future) and Disney. This week’s version attempts to follow the original 1940 Disney masterpiece in much of the same story outline and beats, but rather than the gloriously animated dark epic that that version was, we get a world where the humans are humans and the puppets and creatures are CG. In this case, the character of Pinocchio looks almost identical to the original. Technically, this film is excellent. A lot of great artistry went into this project and it really shows. The film has some major issues, though, when it comes to it wanting to look like a real live-action picture. This vision of the story just doesn’t lend itself well to this style of filmmaking and the melding of the two worlds (live action and CG) feel like two puzzle pieces that don’t fit well together. At times it looks too bizarre, and at others it’s just creepy, and not in a good way. The lonely old man who wants a real boy makes sense, at least a little, in an animated fairly tale. But in real life it’s more than a little uncomfortable, even with the legendary Tom Hanks trying to make it seem as normal as possible. And then there’s the part of the script that is trying to make the film as relevant to today as possible in regards to children and their attitudes to the world around them. I get what they are trying to do, but it is a stretch to say the least, especially in the way it comes across here. A couple of Disney’s straight to streaming choices this year didn’t make sense at all, but this one totally does. In theaters it would have gotten slammed, but on this platform it might just find a more suitable audience that is less demanding and far less vicious in its reception. C+

Mo: Season 1
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Streaming on Netflix

I know we are slammed with material to stream right now, but if you can carve out four hours of your time, I highly recommend you check out this comedy gem from creator and star Mo Amer. Taking place in Houston, the story follows a young hustler named Mo Najjar, a Palestinian refugee struggling to make his way in a society where he can’t hold regular employment due to his immigration status, but nonetheless proves his worth to society through his personal relationships and entrepreneurial ambitions. The eight 30-minute episodes follow him through his crazy adventures, while at the same time helping you understand and empathize with his plight and his and his family’s difficulties trying to make it in America. While last week I had no idea who Mo Amer was, between this show and his new standup special, which also just launched on Netflix, I feel like we have a new underdog hero on our hands and I can’t wait to see what he is capable of as he is quickly gaining a wider and wider audience. A