Pinocchio is a 2002 Italian fantasy comedy-drama film written, directed by and starring Roberto Benigni (of Life is Beautiful fame). The film is based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, with Benigni portraying the title character. The film was filmed in Italy and Kalkara, Malta. Pinocchio was released in Italy in October 2002, and in the United States (in a dubbed version) in December 2002.
After a magical log falls off of a cart, Italian wood carver Geppetto creates a boy named Pinocchio. Shortly after being made, Pinocchio goes on many adventures and gets into all kinds of mayhem until he learns from his mistakes and becomes a real boy.
Why It Is No Lie That It Sucks
- The English-dubbed version has many flaws:
- The English dub makes Pinocchio sound too young: Breckin Meyer, the voice actor doing the English dub is 20 years younger than Benigni.
- The dialogue is very choppy and monosyllabic, like the dubs of either a Godzilla or martial arts movie.
- Hearing Pinocchio cry, whine, get annoyed and even hearing his cheery voice was annoying.
- Many scenes are cut or shortened without reason.
- Ridiculous quotes from our main character including "I'm just a tuna. Glook! Glook!", "Why can't you be alive again?", "It's so good to be alive!", "Don't make me cry anymore!" and "It's me, Pinocchio the puppet!" and when he succeeds at telling the puppet master a sob story to not eat him. There's even a scene where he says "You talking to me?" almost like Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro's character in Taxi Driver).
- Pinocchio is at first a man child, doesn't behave like the one we know and love, is defiant, looks creepy and is unlikable.
- Seeing a middle aged man play a young child puppet is extremely creepy.
- The opening scenes are laughable especially when the log falls off of the back of the cart which results in defying the laws of physics by bouncing up and down the street to Geppetto's doorstep making it look like the log happens to be familiar with Geppetto's residence which makes no sense at all.
- The ending scene where Pinocchio's puppet shadow emerges out of his body after becoming a real boy was creepy.
- Although the lying scenes (which are nods to the book and original story) are featured, the scenes don't come off as subtle since they come off as over the top.
- The humor is really unfunny, sometimes not even trying to get laughs.
- The special effects for the nose growing scenes look ugly and extremely laughable.
- The iconic but terrifying scene where Pinocchio turns into a donkey is not shown.
- Pinocchio doesn't look like he is made of wood at all, although he was carved from a log in the early scenes.
- The effects on the cricket look hideous, particularly because he's really a man with antennas.
- The pacing isn't that great.
- Roberto Benigni's script for the story is faithful to the novel, and some quotes from the original story are in the film.
- The film has the potential of being a good adaptation of the original book, but without the imbecilic behavior of our protagonist.
- The original Italian language dubbed version with subtitles is better.
- Pinocchio learns from his mistakes, changes his behavior and goes to school at the end.
- After Pinocchio behaves well, he and Geppetto live in a more dignified environment.
- Although seeing a grown man play Pinocchio was creepy, the voice work was decent.
- Certain special effects are pretty good.
- The costumes are well designed.
- There are some scenes that are faithful to the source material, particularly the dark scenes.
- The poster is decent.
- It could be a good thing that the donkey transformation scene is not featured.
While the Italian version received mixed reviews, the American version of the film on the other hand was universally panned by critics and audiences alike particularly for the English dubbing and for the choice of having Breckin Meyer voice the title character and making him sound too young. New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell described the film as "an oddity that will be avoided by millions of people." and jokingly stated in his review that "Osama Bin Laden could attend a showing in Times Square and be confident of remaining hidden." He was also critical of Benigni's decision to play the titular character and also stated that his role as Pinocchio is "as believable as Diana Ross playing Dorothy in The Wiz." Steve Rhodes of Internet Reviews stated "If you saw Benigni's Pinocchio at a public park, you'd grab your kids and run and then probably call the police." On Rotten Tomatoes, it was ranked in at #4 on the list of worst films of the 2000s and holds a 0% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 2.4 out of 10 and a critic consensus that reads "Roberto Benigni misfires wildly with this adaptation of Pinocchio, and the result is an unfunny, poorly-made, creepy vanity project." The film is also ranked at #1 for the worst films that opened in theaters on Christmas Day. On IMDb, it has a 4.3 out of 10.
Pinocchio opened up at #19 on its opening weekend of Christmas Day 2002 with a domestic gross of $1,151,463. The total domestic gross would later go up to $3,675,719 and made a total domestic gross of $3,684,305 making it a huge bomb. In foreign countries, the film made $37,638,866. Overall, it made $41,323,171 worldwide against its $41 million budget. Despite the film failing in North American box office markets, the film did however manage to make money in foreign countries, particularly in Italy.
Awards & Nominations
The English-dubbed version earned six Golden Raspberry Award nominations and was the first foreign-language film to be nominated for Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Screen Couple (Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi). It won only one Razzie Award for Benigni as Worst Actor. Despite the English dub bombing in North America, the Italian dub received generally positive reviews. In Italy, the film received seven million dollars within the first three days of its release. The film received six nominations at the David di Donatello Awards and won two awards and was nominated for one at the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.
- Roberto Benigni wrote the script and originally wanted Federico Fellini (who also expressed interest in making the film) to direct, but Benigni decided to direct it himself since Fellini died before the film could be made (mentioned in Oancitizen's video).
- This was the first foreign film to be nominated for Worst Picture at the Golden Raspberry Awards.
- Roberto Benigni defended the quality of the film despite the international negative reception, claiming it was well-received in its native Italy and that it was more faithful to the original book than Disney's version.
- In 2019, Benigni would star in another Pinocchio movie directed by Matteo Garrone and took on the role of playing the age-appropriate role of Geppetto.