Blu-ray and DVD Reviews


Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
2 out of 10
Extras Rating:
4 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: G

Roberto Benigni as Pinocchio
Breckin Meyer as Pinocchio (voice: US version)
Nicoletta Braschi as Blue Fairy
Glenn Close as Blue Fairy (voice: US version)
Carlo GiuffrŤ as Gepetto
James Belushi as Geppetto (voice)
Kim Rossi Stuart as Lucignolo
Peppe Barra as The Talking Cricket
John Cleese as The Talking Cricket (voice: US version)
Mino Bellei as Medoro
Eric Idle as Medoro (voice: US version)
Max Cavallari as The Cat
Eddie Griffin as Cat (voice: US version)
Bruno Arena as The Fox
Luis Molteni as Omino di burro
Alessandro Bergonzoni as Ring Master
Regis Philbin as Circus Master (voice: US version)
Corrado Pani as Giudice
Vincenzo Cerami as Man with the Mustache
Giorgio Ariani as Host of the Gambero Rosso
Tommaso Bianco as Pulcinella
Franco Iavarone as Mangiafuoco (as Franco Javarone)
Giorgio NoŤ as Boy
Erik Bergmann (I) as Butter Man (voice: US version)
Topher Grace as Leonardo (voice: US version)
Queen Latifah as Dove (voice: US version)
Cheech Marin as Fox (voice: US version)
David Suchet as Narrator/Geppetto/The Judge (voice: US version)

Special Features:
Original Italian Language Version

Hollywood Dubbed In English Version

The Windows Of Pinocchio Ė FAQ Schwartz Holiday Windows In New York

The Voices Of Pinocchio: Creating The English Dubbed Version

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1) Ė Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track
English Language Track
English Subtitles
Running Time: 100 Minutes

Roberto Benigni directs and stars in this new adaptation of the classic fairy tale. The film was originally in Italian, but an all-star American cast re-dubbed it. The story is also closer to the original tale than the Disney animated version. This, of course, makes it a bit more convoluted and darker.

As if you didnít already know, Pinocchio is the tale of a magical puppet made by Gepetto that comes to life. Pinocchio loves his ďfatherĒ, but at the same time heís naÔve and mischievous. This not only gets him in trouble, but Gepetto as well. Only the Talking Cricket and the Blue Fairy help guide Pinocchio into doing right.

After being led away from home by bad friends, Pinocchio returns to find Gepetto missing. It turns out his father has gone looking for him. Itís up to Pinocchio to save him, thus becoming less selfish and responsible. And is it possible that Pinocchio might become a real boy?

Pinocchio is rated G.

The Movie:
This movie was so bad I could barely stand to watch it. In fact, I fast-forwarded through most of the film because I could barely tolerate the parts that I did see. Iíve never seen such a colossal miscast as bad as Roberto Benigni as Pinocchio. Seeing a balding, middle-aged man in a puppet outfit pretending to be a boy is just plain creepy. Do you remember Benigniís hyperactive victory dance at the Oscars when he won for Life Is Beautiful? Take that, put him in a clown outfit, and have him act that way for 100 minutes and you have this movie. Itís a bit too much to handle.

The movie is beautiful. Iíll give it that. The sets are stunning and the costumes are great. Itís a very good looking film, but thatís not enough to make it watchable. Iíll also say that I was interested to see a more faithful adaptation of the fairy tale. I was curious to see what the original material was like before Walt Disney whitewashed it. The result is a film that vaguely resembles the Disney animated movie, but itís much darker and a bit more frantic and confusing. In one scene thieves hang Pinocchio at night from a tree. Itís a rather scary moment in the film as he appears to be dead soon after. Another scene shows Pinocchio, in log form before being made into a puppet, madly flying down the street to Gepettoís door. Later on, instead of a whale swallowing our heroes, itís an enormous shark that is rather sinister looking. Another character tries to boil Pinocchio alive and eat him. Overall, I think American audiences will find it rather weird.

As already mentioned, this was an Italian film. This DVD provides the original version and an American version with dubbed voices. Like in dubbed Japanese films, the American actors spit out their lines quickly to try and match whatís happening on film. The result is a spastic soundtrack thatís more annoying than charming. Itís kind of fun, though, to try and guess whoís voicing the characters. While John Cleese and Cheech Marin are immediately identifiable, the others take a bit more work to recognize. That makes listening to it a little more fun.

Overall, though, this movie is just not very entertaining. The story is bizarre and Roberto Benigni is incredibly annoying as Pinocchio. Iím not sure even kids will be interested in this one.

The Extras:
This DVD provides both versions of the movie, the Original Italian Language Version and the Hollywood Dubbed In English Version. I have to give them kudos for doing that. Itís a nice treat for movie buffs to have the choice of listening to either version. Iím surprised it took two discs to offer this, but at least theyíre there if you want them. Besides those two versions, there are a couple of other extras:

The Windows Of Pinocchio Ė FAQ Schwartz Holiday Windows In New York Ė Over Christmas, the toy store FAQ Schwartz in New York decorated their windows in a Pinocchio movie theme. While Iím sure it was a good idea at the time, it now seems like an expensive folly considering how the movie bombed. All that aside, though, itís an interesting feature on how it was all designed and built.

The Voices Of Pinocchio: Creating The English Dubbed Version Ė As big a stinker as this movie is, they sure managed to get a stellar cast to provide the English dub. This video discusses that and talks with John Cleese, Cheech Marin, Topher Grace, Breckin Meyer, and other members of the cast about doing the dub. Most talk about how they like to come in without getting made up and record voices in a relaxed atmosphere. (They donít talk about cashing their checks, though, which Iím sure is another motivation.) They also talk about the difficulties of matching the voices with the performances.

Overall the extras are rather light, but I didnít mind that much since the movie didnít impress me.

The Bottom Line:
This is a real stinker that I recommend you avoid if at all possible. I donít think kids will like it, but you never know. If you have a Mystery Science Theater 3000 party, though, this would make a great feature.

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