The Darkest Parts Of Pinocchio That Nobody Talks About

We're not going to lie: Disney's Pinocchio is a seriously dark movie. It's amazing that parents are still cool with showing it to their kids today, considering the seriously messed-up stuff that happens in the flick. Some dark films for kiddos are really feel-good movies in total, or send an important message that is worth all the darkness. That's not necessarily the case with Pinocchio. While part of the message is good, the execution is downright disturbing.

Geppetto is a little old to be a single dad

As the movie opens, Jiminy Cricket takes us around Geppetto's shop, marveling at all the cool stuff. He jumps up on the unfinished puppet and argues about its name with his pets. Clearly, he's a lonely old guy. He's sweet, but maybe spends a lot of time in his head. He dances the marionette around the room and sings, scaring the crap out of poor Figaro (the cat) and Cleo (the flirty fish) while his creepy clockwork inventions accompany him. Delightful, sure. Except then he goes to bed, makes poor Figaro open the window for him, sees the wishing star, and wishes for Pinocchio to be an actual child. Wait, what?

That's kind of a really big leap, isn't it? Here we have this old-ish clockmaker guy, and it's cool that he digs the new puppet he made, but isn't he a little long in the tooth to be a single dad? Does he know what raising a child entails? Clearly not, once his wish is granted, but why in the world would he wish for a real live kid at his age? If you're lonely, why not wish for a friend? Or a lady friend? Or a boyfriend? We don't judge. Why does Geppetto automatically assume that parenthood is a good idea? What's the over/under on Geppetto living long enough to see Pinocchio make his own little Pinocchios?

The Blue Fairy is clearly setting Pinocchio up to fail

The Blue Fairy shows up after Geppetto wishes upon the wishing star, and after she talks to the sleeping clockmaker, she waves her magic wand and BAM, Pinocchio is alive ... ish. He's still made of pine, but he can move, talk, and kinda walk. She tells him she's given him life because Geppetto wished for a real boy. Pinocchio asks, "Am I a real boy?" And she says no. In order to make the wish come true, it's up to Pinocchio to prove himself "brave, truthful and unselfish." WTF? He's seconds old.

Obviously, he has enough innate knowledge to know about talking and moving and walking, but being brave? Unselfish? Truthful? He comes equipped with a nose that grows when he lies, for goodness sake. That sort of implies that the Blue Fairy knows he's going to mess up. Nice job, Blue Fairy. You obviously hang out with the Fairy Godmother, who magically lets a poor scullery maid go to a swanky party, but then gives her a curfew.

What's the rush about school, anyway?

The very night the Blue Fairy gives life to Pinocchio, Geppetto tucks him into bed, because he has to go to school tomorrow. Again, this wooden half-kid is, at most, an hour old. What's the rush about school? Since it was mere hours since Pinocchio gained sentience, wouldn't it have made sense to teach him some basic things about life first? We don't send babies to school. We teach them some fundamental life skills first.

Geppetto hands Pinocchio an apple for the teacher and a book (where did he get the school textbook, by the way?), even though Pinocchio doesn't even know what other kids are, much less what school is for. He's clueless, which is why he falls for Honest John and Gideon's trick.

Think about it: he doesn't go to school, and the Blue Fairy asks him why. He says he met "two big monsters," and his nose does not grow. He then says they had "big green eyes," and his nose does grow. He learns he isn't supposed to lie, but couldn't there have been a better way to teach him that? And why would a wooden kid be predisposed to lying anyway? The kid obviously wasn't ready for school, and Geppetto should have known that.

Child trafficking is not a cool kid's movie theme

Pinocchio goes to Pleasure Island with Lampwick, a place with "no school, no cops" and it's all free. Free booze, free smokes, free property destruction, free ice cream, a fight club, and any old thing a young juvenile delinquent might want, per 1940s movie standards. Sure, all 8-year olds want to drink and smoke and brawl. There weren't even any tinker toys. What's up with that?

Anyway, once boys prove themselves bad enough, they magically turn into donkeys, and through some unclear trade agreement, end up working in the mines until they die from sheer exhaustion. Look, maybe parents in the early 1940s needed this negative reinforcement of good values to scare into their kids, but nowadays, this is a dark, unexplainable fact, often forgotten when a parent goes to show Pinocchio to their kid for the first time.

Blue Fairy's priorities are all messed up

Back when Pinocchio gets captured by Stromboli and the Blue Fairy rescues him, she says it's the last time she can help him out. What the heck, lady? You bring a sentient wooden puppet into existence, peace out with some vague instructions about how it's up to the wooden puppet to be good enough to fill Geppetto's wishes, and then show up to teach Pinocchio not to lie and to say you won't be around anymore to help him out. First off, are you trying to give the wishkid abandonment issues? If so, good job!

Plus, if you're a fairy, it's likely that you have some sort of foreknowledge of how this is going to all shake out. Why not reserve the one "save" for when Pinocchio is headed to Pleasure Island? She doesn't even stay true to her word, because when the little wooden half-boy gets out of Pleasure Island only half turned into a donkey, she sends a message, via dove, that Geppetto has gone to look for Pinocchio and got swallowed by a big, evil whale. So not only does she lie, herself, when Pinocchio isn't supposed to, she doesn't help as much as she could have. Bad Blue Fairy.

Pinocchio dies

Pinocchio's death was the first Disney death ever. At the time the movie came out, the "main character is dead for ten seconds and everyone is sad and then tears/a kiss of true love/deus ex Blue Fairy saves the day" trope wasn't in place. In fact, Pinocchio may have been what started it.

So Pinocchio drowns trying to save his father (and him breathing underwater just fine when he's looking for Monstro is totally not a thing, by the way) and he proves that he is brave and unselfish. But his little wooden body is prone and still in the ocean, and Jiminy, Geppetto, and even the fish cry over his little waterlogged body. Like that isn't going to cause nightmares.

Nobody saves the other victims of Pleasure Island

So Pinocchio gets to be a real boy, Geppetto's fondest wish is granted, all the clocks go crazy, Jiminy gets a medal, there's some dancing, and everybody lives happily ever after. But do they? No bad deed do-er goes unpunished in this extremely messed-up children's tale.

Stromboli keeps on doing what he's doing. Honest John is still dishonest. The coachman carries on, and Pleasure Island is still a temporary home to wayward boys on their way to donkey slavedom. Nobody goes and rights those wrongs, so what lessons are we supposed to learn?

How about that Pinocchio is a totally messed-up movie that doesn't have any place in a young child's brainspace?