Pinocchio | Chicago Reader

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Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful) wrote, directed, and stars in this live-action adaptation of Carlo Collodi's late-19th-century novel, with his partner Nicoletta Braschi cast as the Blue Fairy. The recut American version is truly awful, but a good 75 percent of the awfulness is attributable to Miramax, the film's distributor. Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio is so quintessentially Italian that it loses much of its meaning and most of its flavor when its Italianness is removed—which is precisely what's accomplished by the slipshod and badly lip-synched dubbing here, leaving the remainder of the film a wreck. The 1940 Walt Disney animated feature also took away many of the Italian elements, but at least that film had a vision of its own. This one seems bent only on reducing and confusing Benigni's eccentric vision with poorly matched American and English accents (from Breckin Meyer, Glenn Close, John Cleese, Cheech Marin, and Queen Latifah, among others) and reediting that ironically slows the brisk pace of the original. I found the latter overly sentimental, like much of Benigni, but still an honest effort to approximate Collodi's story, which is a good deal rougher and creepier than the Disney version. 108 min.

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