Pinocchio (1940) celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, which is astounding to me. It’s staggering to think that animation has been around for well over 80 years at this point, let alone Disney being relevant for a similar amount of time as well.
Honestly, Pinocchio is probably one of my least favorite Disney movies because it’s so disturbing. Puppets, in general, are creepy and having one come to life sounds terrifying. Then there’s the whole giant whale thing and the little boys being turned into donkeys forever. It’s a pretty horrifying movie.
However, Pinocchio should be applauded for this: it created the goofy sidekick character in cinema. Sure, there may have been movies before this that had a sidekick, but hardly any of them struck a chord like Jiminy Cricket.
Shakespeare was the one who originally created comic relief and I silently thank him for it every time I see a great comic relief character. In Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket plays the part of comic relief. While some of his jokes may be a little outdated or even offensive now, they were hilarious at the time in the same way that Timon and Pumba were hilarious in The Lion King (1994).
Jiminy Cricket can always be counted on to provide a bit of humor to the situation. When Pinocchio is helping Geppetto escape Monstro the whale, Jiminy Cricket is rowing his way back and forth trying to catch up to Pinocchio. His bumbling antics are a comedic relief in a tense situation. When he’s trying to get Pinocchio not to talk to Honest John and his pal, he tricks the stupid pal into whacking Honest John with a mallet, which is pretty funny even if it is slapstick humor.
The comic relief character is so important in kids’ films. Kids really can’t handle all that drama, so it’s good to add in a little humor to break it up. Not to mention that the adults watching the film will find some of Jiminy Cricket’s more adult jokes hilarious. I snorted when Jiminy was dancing with a wooden woman on a clock and asking if they wanted to go someplace more private.
The Blue Fairy literally gives Jiminy Cricket the title of Pinocchio’s Conscience. However, even without the title, Jiminy Cricket was the moral conscience of the movie anyway. He teaches us some great life lessons that hold true even today. Although the idea that you wouldn’t tell someone’s father that they were kidnapped is a little concerning. We’ll save that discussion for another day, though.
Jiminy Cricket teaches Pinocchio some of the most essential lessons that every young child should hear. He teaches Pinocchio that if something is too good to be true, you should do more research into it because it probably is. If Pinocchio had listened he wouldn’t have been half-turned into a donkey. Jiminy Cricket also teaches Pinocchio to listen to people with more experience than you because they know what they’re talking about.
Of course, one of the biggest lessons of Pinocchio is not to lie. Of course, lying won’t make your nose grow longer, but it will make people lose a lot of respect for you. And this is the lesson that Jiminy Cricket tries to get across to Pinocchio and the audience.
Overall, Jiminy Cricket is just a great friend to Pinocchio and shows kids (and adults!) what true friends should be. Jiminy Cricket was loyal to Pinocchio, even when the wooden puppet was making some questionable choices. He never left Pinocchio behind and was always there to help him out of a tight spot. He saved Pinocchio’s butt more than once. If it weren’t for him, Pinocchio would be a donkey in a crate headed to the salt mines.
The best part about it is that Jiminy never says “I told you so.” He never rubs it in Pinocchio’s wooden face that he should’ve listened to old Jiminy. Instead, he forgives Pinocchio and helps him out of the messes he gets in.
I can hardcore relate to Jiminy Cricket and I think everyone else can, too. Jiminy is exhausted trying to rein in Pinocchio and his antics all the time and all he wants is some sleep. Can anyone else relate?
Jiminy Cricket can see when his friends are making bad choices and can’t do anything to stop them. Instead, he lets the consequences play out so Pinocchio will have to come back to him. That is relatable.
Plus, Jiminy Cricket is always making wisecracks even in the direst situations, that’s something I think a lot of us can relate to. Never thought I would relate so much to a talking cricket.
Jiminy Cricket’s Legacy
Without good old Jiminy Cricket, we wouldn’t have some of the great sidekicks that we have today, like Genie from Aladdin (1992), BB-8 from The Force Awakens (2015), or even Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. (2001). The wisecracking yet wise sidekick who is just kind of exhausted to be there is such a great trope, especially in Disney films. He’s always there to bail the brainless protagonist out when he or she needs it. Jiminy Cricket spawned a whole generation of sidekicks that people love.
Even though Pinocchio is a decidedly creepy movie, we have to give it credit for introducing the world to great sidekicks. Jiminy Cricket was a cricket ahead of his time and we owe him for all the great sidekicks of film.
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Timothy Q. Mouse has a run for Jiminy Cricket’s money in my opinion but I love how they both help out our main character in situations.
Oooh good point! Love ’em both!
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