You know the name, the story and the lessons learned and yet every time a new movie about the title character of Pinocchio is released, it feels as if I’m reading the story for the first time again! This latest film, not to be confused with the upcoming Guillermo Del Toro feature, is an Italian and French production of the classic tale but doesn’t involve the Disney treatment. The Disney classic is the one that I grew up with but admittingly is quite sanitized when compared to the 1883 story by Italian writer Carlo Collidi. This movie by Matteo Garrone is a wonderful film that captures the true essence of the title character, however, the film feels overlong and there are some scenes in this movie that will be disturbing for younger viewers. I any and all to take the PG-13 rating seriously when considering viewing this among children.
As you are well aware, Pinocchio was created from a block of wood, or log I should say. Geppetto (Roberto Benigni) is a poor Italian carpenter who barely has any money to himself. Upon seeing the puppet theater arrive in town hosted by the infamous Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti). It’s here that Geppetto gets the idea to make himself a puppet and travel the world making money as a puppeteer. His creation is a glorious one and makes it his mission to craft the best looking puppet the world has ever seen. Through an unexplained event, the creation comes alive and repeats what Geppetto says. Once he has legs, this puppet can run all over the place! The puppet is alive and is essentially the boy that Geppetto never had. He’s now a father and he couldn’t be happier. He names the puppet ‘Pinocchio’.
Even though he was just born, Pinocchio can talk, engage in full conversation and can find his way around town. The only thing is, is that he doesn’t listen to the rules. He’d rather partake in what everyone else is doing and this leads him to become separated from his father and off he goes onto his own adventure! Geppetto is heartbroken at losing his son and sets out to find him, but this movie’s focus is on Pinocchio.
During his adventures Pinocchio learns a few lessons along the way. Some are easy while other allow for consequences to occur. One of the prime examples of this is when Pinocchio meets The Cat and The Fox (Rocco Papaleo & Massimo Ceccherini). These two are dangerous and will do anything to get what they want, only poor Pinocchio doesn’t realize this. He has someone to help him, an old friend of Geppetto’s- The Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta). Pinocchio doesn’t care to hear his advice and because of this, he’s forced to take a hard lesson.
I will mention that we get to see the Fairy with Turquoise Hair (Marine Vacth)! The one who teaches and guides young Pinocchio to attain his goal in life- to become a real boy. Wishing it is only the beginning as he has to prove his worth in order for that wish to come true. Pinocchio is a cheery movie that’s filled with fantastical creatures, gorgeous cinematography and always leaves a lasting impression.
Although, I felt the movie was too long, I wasn’t bored with the movie. The main complaint that I do have with the film is viewing the movie with English Dubbing. One character in particular sounds so goofy that every time he was on the screen, it was difficult to take his character seriously especially when he spoke. I’ve read some complaints that Pinocchio himself looks off-putting and this is due to the fact that he was created via prosthetic make-up instead of traditional CGI. The trailers sort of turned me away, but once you get into the movie, it’s the last thing you’ll think about. He actually looks like a wooden doll and when he walks and swings his arms, they sound just like you’d think they would.
Score 3.5 out of 5
Pinocchio is a classic tale that will never get old. It boasts a story that’s memorable and features some truly unique characters. The actors are perfectly cast and I was truly absorbed by the performance of Frederico Ielapi (who portrays Pinocchio). Bear in mind that this is unlike the Disney films that came prior to this, some you may be in for a shock for some scenes that feature disturbing images. Still, with a solid direction from director and co-writer Matteo Garrone, I was impressed with not only the visuals but the sense of style that seems rare for the recent live-action Disney films. This movie felt original and true to the heart of The Adventures of Pinocchio.
Although this was released last year in Italy and is now released in the U.S., I don’t think this will be a big hit as it was in the international box office. Still, if you looking for a authentic feel to a classic story, then add Pinocchio to your list. I’m sure it’ll stir up some memories you had when the read the book for the first when you were a child.