Pinocchio and Geppetto are finally reunited. This sequence is rich in emotion and once again Pinocchio takes postive, independent action to save his father.
The sequence works despite the fragmented animation assignments. Geppetto, in particular, is played by many animators in the early section. For Pinocchio, this is a great sequence for Les Clark, but he loses some of the shots to other animators, including some important ones (10.1, 12 and 24.3) to Milt Kahl.
Sentiment is always dangerous, which is why comedy is often used to soften it. Here, when Pinocchio calls out to his father, Geppetto brushes him off as he's focused on bringing in the tuna. When he finally realizes that his son is there and reaches to embrace him, he grabs a tuna by accident and kisses it, getting another laugh. No doubt Disney learned this kind of thing from Chaplin. City Lights features a sequence where the tramp falls in love with the blind flower girl and as he stares longingly at her, she unknowingly tosses water in his face.
Physical contact between characters is very powerful, especially when the characters are flexible enough to squash in the manner of real flesh. There are several hugs between Geppetto and Pinocchio here. It's interesting that only one of them (24.3) is by a single animator, in this case Milt Kahl. In the previous hugs, Bill Shull and Les Clark enact one (10.3) and Art Babbitt and Harvey Toombs enact the other (12.1). All, however, are emotionally satisfying.
Les Clark's posing of Pinocchio in 21.1 and 24 is just fantastic. I made negative comments about Clark's drawing of Pinocchio back in Part 6. While there were some rough edges on Clark's drawing in those early scenes, these two scenes are ones that any animator would be proud of. The sweep of the legs and spine captures Pinocchio's hesitation, embarrassment and shame simultaneously. Clark isn't known for a particular performance the way some of the other animators are, but this sequence is definitely one that should be mentioned whenever Clark is discussed.
We get a brief glimpse of Jiminy, re-establishing that he's outside Monstro, before going back inside while Pinocchio plans the escape. Here, the whole show is pretty much Clark and Art Babbitt, and there's solid acting for each of the characters. Babbitt's phrasing of Geppetto's body during dialogue is excellent. The two characters are thinking along very different paths and yet Geppetto stays in the conversation with Pinocchio while not understanding his intentions. That's good writing and Babbitt makes it work, keeping Geppetto calmly focused on cooking the fish until he realizes Pinocchio's intent and what it will lead to: one very angry whale.