Budding entomologists might be confused by Jiminy Cricket, who looks less like an insect and more like an odd-nosed lizard in a top hat. (Of course, he seems fairly correct when compared to the four-limbed insects in A Bug's Life.) Jiminy Cricket serves as Pinocchio's conscience--a surprising choice since the loud crickets outside my window bent on keeping me awake at night don't seem to have much compunction at all.
Pinocchio is a living puppet trying to become "a real boy," and he has misadventures along the way. He's forced to perform on command and is locked in a cage by Stromboli, a villain whose name will make pizzeria menus seem sinister for the rest of your life. Pinocchio escapes only to be coerced into illegal gambling and underage tobacco and alcohol abuse on Pleasure Island, where boys turn into literal jackasses. The boys are then sold into donkey-slavery in the salt mines to boot.
Our wooden hero escapes and returns home to find that Gepetto, his maker, has been swallowed by Monstro the whale. Right. So Pinocchio gets swallowed by the whale too and in one of the most squirm-inducing, sinus-tingling scenes in the history of cinema, they build a fire inside the whale's stomach cavity to make him sneeze them out. It works, but Pinocchio gets killed, and the Blue Fairy brings him back to life, as a "real boy" this time.
Save the whales! Or set them on fire; your choice.
Pinocchio. Dir. Ben Sharpsteen et al. Perf. Cliff Edwards, Dickie Jones, Christian Rub. Disney, 1940.
Pinocchio (Disney Gold Classic Collection)
(Watch the trailer on YouTube here)