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Review by Susan Granger
0 stars out of 4
I must confess I compiled my "Worst of 2002" list before I saw Roberto
Benigni's live-action version of "Pinocchio." Critics were not invited to
screenings, and it's understandable why. After the tremendous popular and
critical acclaim for "Life Is Beautiful," Mr. Benigni was obviously given
free-rein with Carlo Collodi's fanciful fairy tale - and it flops, big-time.
The story of the wooden puppet who longs to be a real live boy stars
Benigni, whose Italian has been ineptly dubbed into English by actor Breckin
Meyer. But the lip-syncing is so sloppy that it moves beyond disconcerting into
laughably ludicrous. In addition, Pinocchio's father/creator Geppetto (Carlo
Giuffre, dubbed by David Suchet) doesn't seem to realize that his "boy," carved
out of pine, is actually a rapidly-balding, middle-aged man. Remember how creepy
Diana Ross was as young Dorothy in "The Wiz"?
Meanwhile, there's the Blue Fairy (Nicoletta Braschi/a.k.a. Mrs.
Benigni, dubbed by Glenn Close), making an impressive entrance pulled by a train
of white mice, and jabbering Cricket (dubbed by John Cleese), who screeches,
"Serves you right!" when Pinocchio misbehaves. And to strike a contemporary
note, the whale that gulps Pinocchio and Geppetto has update to a great white
shark. Since I'm not a psychiatrist, I won't even delve into Benigni's grotesque
interpretation of this classic fable except to warn parents that it contains
some subtle yet bizarre sexual innuendoes that they may prefer to vet
ahead-of-time. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Pinocchio" barely scores
a 1. Summing it up: it's a frightful vanity film that, no doubt, pays off what
debt Miramax felt they owed to Benigni.
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger