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out of 4 Movie Review: Pinocchio

Starring: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi
Director: Roberto Benigni
Rated: G
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: December 2002
Genres: Foreign, Kids

*Also starring: Carlo Giuffre, Bruno Arena, Peppe Barra

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows no stars
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review video review

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

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