The new live action PINOCCHIO is by Oscar winning actor Roberto Benigni (LIFE IS
BEAUTIFUL), who directs, co-writes and stars in it. The surprise is that the
fifty-year-old hasn't cast himself in the obvious role of Geppetto. Oh no, he
has taken the part of Pinocchio, the puppet who wants to be a real boy.
It was just six years ago that we had a fairly good version called THE
ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO. So in what ways does Benigni's vision improve on this
oft told tale? None whatsoever. In fact, his version is so laughably bad that
you'll feel embarrassed for every theater patron foolish enough to have
purchased a ticket for this turkey.
Part, but far from all, of the problems with the production stem from the
horrible English dubbing, especially for Benigni, who speaks with the voice of a
child while looking creepily like a man playing dress up. The costume for
Pinocchio looks like a set of toddler's pajamas made with a circus motif. In
short, his clothes are ridiculous. If you saw Benigni's Pinocchio at a public
park, you'd grab your kids and run and then probably call the police.
What is never obvious is who the intended audience is for this cinematic
debacle. The only child in my audience of three -- my son wisely refused to
come -- was visibly bored out of her wits and didn't laugh once. The script
pays no respect to the traditional story and instead turns the production into a
vanity piece for Benigni. The only thing commendable about the entire movie is
that it is at least handsomely filmed.
When the ending credits roll, saving you from having to endure any more of the
awful movie, you may finally realize its only possible future. Expect to see it
on college campuses at camp classics film festivals. It's that bad.
PINOCCHIO runs a painfully long 1:48. It is rated G and would be acceptable for
all ages and will bore all of them equally.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes