Cinematic Hell: Pinocchio (2002)
Ugh...I really hate my job today. For whatever reason, my bosses decided that it would be a great idea for me to watch one of the biggest disasters that ever came to cinema. For the longest time, I avoided this movie because I heard the dreaded tales of the very few people who saw the Roberto Benigni version of Pinocchio.
Where the hell do I even start? This movie is just a huge puzzle and it's hard to really put it together. It might even be hard to just talk about it. I guess I'll just start with some history. Originally, this version of Pinocchio was an Italian film that supposedly started out as a collaboration between Benigni and 12 time Oscar nominated director/screenwriter Federico Fellini. However, Fellini passed away and so Benigni took on directing duties along with co-writing the script and for whatever reason he also decided to start in the leading role. Yeah that's right, Benigni (who was nearly or at 50 years old at the time) stars as a wooden puppet boy. That right there is probably the biggest problem with this entire movie. Yes, I know this a fantasy story but at the same time there has to be some sort of measure of reality even in the most magical stories or fantastical of settings. I don't care how much of a child's spirit you have within you, being this old you can't make us believe that Roberto Benigni is a child. And no, I'm not being ageist or whatever, I'm being realistic. It was like when Joan Crawford took her daughter's role in "The Secret Storm", it makes no sense and the rope of disbelief is broken into two pieces. Now that we got the biggest problem out of the way, let's look at what else makes this movie suck so hard.
There are actually two versions of Pinocchio out there, the original Italian film and The English Dub version with Miramax's name on it. I have seen both versions of Benigni's film and trust me, neither of them are good in the slightest. However, if I have to choose which is worse I would say the English Dub is probably the most insufferable. The English script has probably the most puzzling dialogue I've ever heard. It's not like there's strange words, but each sentence and inflection seems so wrong. Along with that, the American voice cast is clearly not giving a shit AT ALL. Like I said, the inflection or feeling within the lines these people speak is nonexistent. These people are clearly reading their lines instead of acting them out. The only people in the English voice cast who's giving it their all is David Suchet as Geppetto, John Cleese as the Cricket and Breckin Meyer as Pinocchio. Poor Meyer... he's clearly trying so hard to make this role work but man even his performance is annoying as hell. I don't know if he had bad direction or the shitty script is to blame but man he's just as misplaced as Benigni is .
You might've noticed I haven't really talked about the plot to Benigni's version of Pinocchio. Well there is not much to say about it because it's pretty basic. it's the story of Pinocchio, a puppet who wants to be a real boy and to do that he has to learn to be a good boy. But despite how faithful this movie is to the original fairytale written the 1800's, there's still a lot of problems with the narrative. Now this version really wants to be like the original story, but the problem is it apparently wants to be the Disney movie too. Benigni I guess thought Pinocchio trying to kill the talking Cricket (not named Jiminy) and Pinocchio being hanged from a tree was appropriate enough for children. Then there's another brand weirdness when the Blue Fairy comes into the picture. The Blue Fairy is actually played by Benigni's real wife Nicolette Braschi and wow their on screen chemistry is just weird. I can't even put my finger on why these two are so weird together. The script clearly wants these two to have a mother-son relationship but again I guess the real life ages of these people really get in the way of the film's universe.
Honestly guys, I have nothing more to say about this movie. It's a waste of time because there's literally nothing good about the film's characters or story. I guess the music and the set design are neat but that's far from a recommendation. It doesn't matter if you watch the Italian version or the Miramax English dub, Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio is just an awful and cringe worthy film. It's bizarre, poorly acted, poorly written and just very unsettling to watch. Just stay far away and believe that 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Score: 0/10.