STOP DUBBING FOREIGN MOVIES! Either studios think American audiences are too stupid and lazy to watch a foreign film in its original language, or American audiences are too stupid and lazy, or it's a combination of both. Miramax's Pinocchio, which is Roberto Benigni's follow-up to Life is Beautiful is dubbed in the same atrocious manner that all American studios dub films. Instead of translating what the actor says, they take an idiotic step and try to synchronize lip movements to make it seem more natural. Not that it already isn't unnatural enough watching what sounds like a teenage voice coming out of Benigni's mouth. So in essence, what the audience hears is now an adaptation of what was originally said, and no matter what anyone can do, the result always looks stupid. It also gives the studios a shameless opportunity to bring in big name actors to do the dubbing, so out of respect for the original actors (and in protest of this STUPID decision) this review will not mention any of the voice actors.

Pinocchio is the fruition of a long-time dream for Benigni (Life is Beautiful, The Monster), who initially planned to make it over a decade ago with legendary director Federico Fellini. The original novel by Carlo Collodi is revered in Italy, and who else but Benigni with is manic styling and endless energy can play the puppet who wants to be a boy? Well, time passed and Fellini passed away, leaving Benigni to come up with his own version. It was the most expensive Italian production ever (still modest compared to American ones) and has a lush look to it. Many of the scenes look really fake, but do so in a fairytale like manner, so instead of looking like a set it looks like some artificial world. There is a lot of painstaking detail that went into creating things like Geppetto's workshop, the Blue Fairy's castle or her mouse-drawn carriage, the carnivals, and the insides of the whale. Nicola Piovanni's (Life is Beautiful, The Son's Room) music is just as wonderful, lending a lighthearted air to the entire proceeding.

However the movie itself leaves much to be desired. It is a more faithful representation of Collodi's source material than what most people are familiar with (probably the Disney version). Geppetto (Carlo Guiffre, Death to You, Desire) sculpted Pinocchio out of a block of enchanted wood, and wants Pinocchio to be a good boy. But try as he might, Pinocchio keeps getting into trouble. He falls in love with the Blue Fairy (Nicoletta Braschi, Life is Beautiful, Hardboiled Egg), who has the power to change Pinocchio into a boy and also wants him to behave. The movie follows Pinocchio as keeps making mistakes because of his impulsiveness, and begins to eventually mature and think before he acts.

It is the character of Pinocchio itself that makes the film tedious. First, it's hard to say how well all the actors do because watching them is like watching mimes. They seem to be acting out the motions okay. Benigni is a great physical actor who embodies many childlike qualities, but whether these childlike qualities are the same ones that Pinocchio embodies is debatable. Pinocchio gets into so much trouble because he knows no better. He is naive and inexperienced, and people see this and take advantage of him. Benigni is more somebody who instigates trouble, albeit in a good-natured way. His version of Pinocchio is extremely annoying, like so child in need of Ritalin. He jumps all over the place and never shuts his mouth. It's no wonder he keeps getting in trouble, because instead of innocence, this Pinocchio radiates idiocy.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 48 minutes, should be Italian with English subtitles BUT IT'S NOT, Rated G.

Back to Movies