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Pinocchio (2002)
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by EricDSnider

"May everyone involved with this film suffer painful death"
1 stars

"Pinocchio" is an excuse for Roberto Benigni to gambol around like a ninny, acting merry and whimsical and annoying the hell out of everyone. It's the way he behaved at the Oscars in 1999, when "Life Is Beautiful" was winning awards and he was America's favorite irrepressible funnyman, climbing on seats and sloshing exuberance all over the theater. The difference between then and now? We weren't tired of him then. Even by 2000, we were a little embarrassed we'd ever been so taken with the Italian goofball, and today, he is strictly on a case-by-case basis. We are keen to enjoy his movies when they are good -- "Life Is Beautiful" is still a masterpiece, regardless of how Benigni acts in public -- and to hate them when they are bad.

It is into the latter category that "Pinocchio" falls. It is a curiously mirthless, uninspired adaptation of the 1881 Carlo Collodi fairy tale, with 50-year-old Benigni as the title character.

Yes, it's a little odd to have the famous puppet who wants to be a boy played by someone who already WAS a boy, and who stopped being one in the 1960s. The incongruity -- nay, creepiness -- of such an idea is one of the film's numerous flaws.

Another one is the way it's been dubbed. The English-language actors -- Breckin Meyer, Glenn Close and John Cleese among them -- are stuck reciting dialogue that sounds like it has been translated too literally. It is awkward and strange, in no way resembling the way people actually talk, or even the way movie characters actually talk. You can never get an emotional hold on the thing because you keep noticing how stilted the language is.

Much of it is obvious and redundant, too. Pinocchio has a habit of talking to himself, saying unnecessary things like, "I'm so scared! If I can get to that house, maybe I'll be safe!" Well, duh.

The production and costume design, by Danilo Donati (his last work before dying in 2001) is splendid, charmingly setting the story in approximately the same era as when Collodi wrote it. But as a whole, the film is not fanciful enough to make us suspend our disbelief. Instead, we are nagged by questions: Why does everyone think Pinocchio is a puppet when he looks NOTHING LIKE A PUPPET? How does a boy sit in jail for four months without any attempt being made to contact his parents? Why is the owner of the puppet theater a giant? Why would Geppetto send his beloved boy off to school without an escort, or without at least giving him directions to the school?

Good special effects and Benigni's flair for physical comedy are wasted in this insipid, nearly unbearable film. Take a step back, Roberto, and before you write, direct and star another film, get some input first. A fairy tale is a terrible thing to waste.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6493&reviewer=247
originally posted: 12/31/02 17:04:30
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/21/06 David Cohen Pinnocchio as a middle-aged man with a receding hairline? And this clown won an Oscar?! 1 stars
8/25/04 S.F. As good as pinochio gets! Visually quite stunning. 4 stars
7/07/04 wildcarde1 OH MY GOD, this was a horrible horrible excuse for a movie 1 stars
3/27/04 Kartikey Sehgal lack of any subtleness spoils the movie. Benigni is a genius with splendid aesthetic sense. 3 stars
2/26/04 Betty White Not too bad; some very good production values almost save it altogether. 4 stars
7/15/03 Sugarfoot Turd! 1 stars
6/07/03 Roberto Benigni I-a love-a it! You Americans-a are-a too stupid-a to appreciate my masterpizza-a! 5 stars
5/25/03 MorkRules Double Dumb as hell 1 stars
4/23/03 GWB dumbas hell 1 stars
2/25/03 Andrew Carden Silly and Overblown Version Of The Film Isn't Worth The Wait 2 stars
2/17/03 Ubu the Ripper this movie is the reason "sucks all ass" exists, I mean, c'mon 1 stars
2/16/03 Kyle About a 50 year old man running around in pink pajamas talking to kids. Or Michael Jackson. 1 stars
1/17/03 joey What a terrible film. 1 stars
1/06/03 Steve I still can't believe I sat through the whole thing... 1 stars
1/04/03 Shauna The worst movie EVER! Even my sister(that's 5) said "What's wrong with their months?" 1 stars
1/04/03 max zhang Faggy and emasculating. Sis, don't make me do this shit again. 1 stars
1/04/03 George Jung My eyes! My eyes! Fucking kill me now for seeing this shit! 1 stars
1/03/03 JR Worst movie I have ever seen. Violece and morbidity make it inappropriate for kids < 10. 1 stars
1/01/03 Chrome I really like Benigni and I liked the movie. Subtitles would've been better. 3 stars
12/31/02 Mr Math One of the greatest reviews I've read in a long time, Mr Souter. Nice work. 2 stars
12/30/02 Shirley Courson Surprisingly, my 5 and 7 year olds liked it. They really liked the whale/shark scene. 2 stars
12/30/02 Samuele Bagnai Read the book and then comment the movie! 4 stars
12/30/02 H It sucked; even my 5 year old said so. 1 stars
12/30/02 lizabeth I really enjoyed this movie in spite of the bad press...it is faithful to the story! 4 stars
12/29/02 stonedcat another god damn bumrush to make kiddie stories into profit...are the 90's happening again? 1 stars
12/27/02 E-Rock Damn Foreign Films. Nephew made me go, and even he didn't like it. 1 stars
12/25/02 gdfgdfgfdgfd WTF? Roberto Benigni as Pinocchio? He's too old!!!!!! The filmmakers must be on crack. 1 stars
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  25-Dec-2002 (G)
  DVD: 14-Feb-2012



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