Let's say I didn't lead in by identifying PINOCCHIO or pointing out that the movie's rated G. What if I had started by asking you when the last time was that you got to see an Italian fantasy on the big screen?
If that question sparks a reaction in you, then go. Go before the clueless critics do their best to make this one flop out of every theatre in town.
Admittedly, PINOCCHIO is a tough sell. Not to ME, of course. I laughed myself sick throughout JOHNNY STECCHINO and THE MONSTER, and I'm firmly in the plus column of the endless LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL debate. Hell, I even have SON OF THE PINK PANTHER on tape.
But we can't have Roberto Benigni's latest touring American theatres in a subtitled version, can we? We'd never get our family audience, and it would go straight to the arthouses, never to return. So... we have to dub it into English. And no matter how you slice it, it looks and sounds exactly like an Italian film dubbed into English.
That's a pretty major strike, I know. They try their best--they use all sorts of celebrity voices for the honors. I'm not too familiar with Breckin Meyer, but we get John Cleese as the Cricket (NOT Jiminy), Topher Grace from THAT 70'S SHOW as Leonardo (aka Lampwick), Cheech Marin and Eddie Griffin as Fox and Cat, etc. etc.
But it's getting trashed anyway (whaddya expect from Rex Reed?). But why? Because the cricket doesn't sing? Because it continues on for a fair amount of time after the belly-of-the-beast climax? Hey--this isn't a remake of Disney's PINOCCHIO, which remains an animated masterpiece. No--it's an adaptation of Carlo Collodi's original BOOK, and a darn faithful one (okay, except they left out the part where Cat gets his paw bitten off)--and it's been done proud in pure Italian fantasy style. Mario Bava would have been quite pleased, I dare say. The colors, the art and set design, the performances of human actors in fantasy character roles--this is great stuff, whether you consider it a "kiddie" film or not.
And let's not forget the effects--of all varieties. This film even has CGI down as a smoothly polished art form. You'll know right from the beginning when an enchanted log jumps from the pile and raises hell all over town before coming to rest at Gepetto's cottage. You know it's computerized, but only in a "well, what else COULD it be" sense--the sequence itself is flawless, and there's plenty more where that came from--not to mention plenty of room for more traditional makeup effects and the like.
Odds are there's a DVD down the road that'll contain both this version and the subtitled original. For now, the only time you'll hear Benigni's voice is during his song on the end credits. But trust me, this is a big screen movie. The inconvenience of the dubbing is something we all have to put up with, but I still say you're missing out if you pass up a chance to enjoy the imagery of this movie at full size and full impact.
Don't judge a "book" by its "cover"--check out PINOCCHIO!
As in not off. If you want to post about mainstream flicks, this is the forum.
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