Pinocchio (2019)

If you saw this and thought, “Didn’t Academy Award winner Roberto Benigni already make a Pinocchio movie back in 2002?*” Well, yes, you would be correct. That version, written, directed and starring Benigni was nominated for six Razzies, including Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Actor (Benigni, who was dubbed by Breckin Meyer, Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Screen Couple (Benigni and his wife Nicoletta Braschi, who played the Blue Fairy).

Seventeen years later, Benigni is in another adaption of Carlo Collodi’s book The Adventures of Pinocchio, but now he’s playing the wooden boy’s father Geppetto. Is the second time the charm for this timeless tale?

When a magical piece of wood falls into his hands, Geppetto does what he does best, carves it. What emerges is his greatest creation, Pinocchio, a puppet wondrously bestowed with life. However, Pinocchio dreams of becoming a real boy and that quest takes him into a series of misadventures with a fox and a cat, as well as a hundred-year-old cricket that continually attempts to be the conscience that our hero needs.

This film looks gorgeous, as it has a practical effects heart instead of trying to be a CGI film. It looks darker and scarier than the Disney approach that we know in this country, but don’t let that put you off. There’s something great here.

That said, it’s still pretty dark in places. After several adaptations to make the story more family-friendly, director Matteo Garrone took this movie back to its origins, the grim atmosphere and satirical tone of Collodi’s original novel. Garrone claimed that “much of the criticisms of the film’s violent content came from adults, while children in the test audience were quite relaxed about that aspect.”

Garrone is known for films like Dogman and Gomorrah, which are more adult fare. This is his first film that families can watch. He also believed in the project so much that he put his own money into the dubbing, using Italian actors who would know the emotions and would be able to convey it to a worldwide audience.

Pinocchio is now available on demand from Lionsgate, who were kind enough to send us a review copy.

*Rocco Papaleo (who plays the Cat) was the voice of Mangiafoco in the 2012 animated adaption.

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