Pinocchio (2020)

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Short takes

Not suitable under 12; parental guidance to 13 (distressing and frightening scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Pinocchio (2020)
  • a review of Pinocchio (2020) completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 November 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to frightening and distressing scenes.
Children aged 12–13 Parental guidance recommended due to frightening and distressing scenes.
Children over the age of 13 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Pinocchio (2020)
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and violence
Length: 125 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

When a poor carpenter, Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), carves a puppet boy from a magical log, he decides to name the puppet Pinocchio (Frederico Ielapi) and keep him as his son. Pinocchio proves to be a naïve, and sometimes mischievous, child who gets into trouble and faces much peril. On his way to school, Pinocchio stops by a puppet show and is kidnapped by a villainous puppeteer, Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti). However, after threatening to use Pinocchio for firewood, Mangiafuoco has a change of heart and lets Pinocchio go, with gold coins to give to Geppetto for his troubles. As Pinocchio begins his journey home he is stopped by two assassins in disguise, a fox (Massimo Ceccherini) and a cat (Rocco Papaleo), who trick Pinocchio into venturing into the woods, where they hang him by his neck from a tree, and steal his gold coins. Pinocchio is saved by a blue-haired fairy (Alida Baldari Calabria) who takes him to some doctors. After he returns to his journey to Geppetto, Pinocchio faces many perils including being swindled of his money, sentenced to life by a judge, shipwrecked on an island, transformed into a donkey, kidnapped by a circus, thrown into the ocean to drown in his donkey-form, and swallowed whole by a sea monster. Finally reunited, Pinocchio helps Geppetto recover from their sea journey and he is eventually transformed into a real boy.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Separation from a parent; Serious illness; Cons and swindles; Children as victims and at risk of harm; Friendship and familial love.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A teacher hits his students on the hand with a ruler when they cannot answer questions in class.
  • Pinocchio throws a hammer at an anthropomorphised cricket who cries in pain.
  • Assassins hang Pinocchio from a tree by his neck and leave him to die – as he is a wooden puppet he does not die and is subsequently freed.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Pinocchio and his friends are transformed into donkeys (transformation of their faces occurs off-screen) – the characters scream in fear – this is likely to distress younger viewers.
  • Pinocchio’s nose grows longer every time he tells a lie and woodpeckers are used to reduce the length of his nose – this may distress younger viewers.
  • Pinocchio accidentally burns his feet after falling asleep in front of a fire.
  • Many characters are anthropomorphised animals such as a talking cricket, cat, and fox – this may distress very young children.
  • Pinocchio is transformed into a real boy (this occurs off-screen).

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Pinocchio is transformed into a donkey – concrete is tied to his legs and he is thrown into the ocean to drown.
  • Pinocchio is kidnapped by a puppeteer who threatens to use him for firewood.
  • Pinocchio becomes ill after being hung from a tree in the woods overnight.
  • A group of undertaker rabbits tell Pinocchio that if he does not take his medicine he will die and be put in a coffin.
  • Pinocchio is transformed into a donkey and sold to a circus where he is forced to perform tricks.
  • In an attempt to escape the circus, Pinocchio (in donkey form) trips and hurts himself – instead of escaping, he is thrown into the ocean with concrete weights tied to him so he will drown – Pinocchio is saved after fish nibble away his donkey skin to reveal his normal self beneath – this may distress young viewers.
  • A giant sea monster swallows Pinocchio whole – Pinocchio finds his father inside the sea monster and they both escape unharmed.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Pinocchio is swindled by a cat and a fox and so he reports the crime to a judge – though he is innocent, the judge sentences Pinocchio to a life sentence – Pinocchio exonerates himself.
  • Pinocchio is separated from Geppetto for a substantial period of the film while Geppetto searches for him unsuccessfully.
  • Pinocchio tries to swim to Geppetto but becomes shipwrecked on an island – Pinocchio is shown washed up on the shore after struggling with aggressive waves.
  • Geppetto becomes sick from being swallowed by the sea monster – Pinocchio must work hard to heal him.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Alcohol is drunk and is visible (wine, spirits).
  • A character is accused of “drinking too much” when he begins to behave strangely.

Coarse language

  • None noted.

In a nutshell

Pinocchio (2020) is a live-action adaption of the classic children’s story which stays true to the original tale’s darkness and moral themes. This film is a much grimmer version than the Disney animated classic, and will likely distress younger viewers due to themes of separation from loved ones, deceitful and malicious characters, and the perilous situations Pinocchio finds himself in. Younger viewers may also find this film slightly long. This film is best suited for older viewers who are likely to appreciate this film as it provides a beautifully made, performed, and adapted classic story with innovative costuming and prosthetic effects. It may be enjoyed by viewers aged 12-13, though parental guidance is recommended for these ages.

The main messages from this movie are that it is important to tell the truth and not to lie; and that if you are kind, respectful, appropriately obedient to your elders, and work hard, you will be rewarded.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Listening to responsible and trustworthy adults about how to behave and interact with the world.
  • Being courageous and curious about the world.
  • Loving your family.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • How to engage (or choose not to engage) safely with strangers – Pinocchio is repeatedly swindled, conned, and hurt by others throughout the film (often due to his own naivety).