|Page 1 of 3:||  |
|Index||28 reviews in total|
Roberto Benigni, who went to achieve international stardom with "Life
Is Beautiful," plays two roles in this comedy. The story is about an
innocent man who is dead ringer for a gangster-informant-in hiding.
Benigni plays both roles.
It's a decent movie, a low-key comedy that has some funny moments but would have been much better had it been chopped down about 15 minutes. It tends to drag a bit during the second half. Benigni, as the "wimp," is a very charming guy and one that's easy to root for, but the rest of the characters in the film are just so-so. It's odd to ever see the usually high-strung Benigni as a lower-key person.
Surprisingly, this is an "R" rated comedy, and that's because of the language. I rented this once, but would see it again, especially since it''s now available on DVD.
Before Roberto Benigni became a household name in the States, he
directed and starred in this totally wacky movie about an ordinary man
mistaken for a mobster while looking for a woman (Nicoletta Braschi) in
Sicily. I guess that mostly, "Johnny Stecchino" is a big excuse to be
silly, but it's definitely what Benigni does best. The movie is like a
combination of a Charlie Chaplin flick and a Looney Tunes cartoon
cranked up to maximum energy. It's a fun romp in every way, shape and
form. And it will probably make you want to go to Sicily. All in all, a
really good time.
And don't forget: stay away from the bananas!
For anyone who questions Roberto Benigni's talent as a comic, rent Johnny Stecchino. In Life is Beautiful Benigni showed us his gift as a director/storyteller/artist, in Johnny Stecchino Roberto Benigni demonstrates why a nation of 70 million (Italy) have loved this man long before North America saw Life is Beautiful. Johnny Stecchino was written and directed by Benigni and exemplifies his genius as a physical comic and comedy writer. The story is hilarious and will have you dying of laughter. By the way, if you really have no knowledge the Italian language you may miss some key one-liners which simply cannot be translated but you will get the overall "gist" of this extremely funny film.
I just watched the 1991 Italian movie "Johnny Stecchino" (or "Johnny
Toothpick") on video. One of my all-time favorite films is "La Vita è
bella" ("Life is Beautiful", 1997), another film that Roberto Benigni
also directed, co-wrote, and played the lead role in. When I saw a
preview of Benigni's comedy "Johnny Stecchino", I had to see the movie.
Benigni is truly a gifted man with comic elements that remind me in this film of the Marx Brothers in physicality and Mr. Bean in amazing simple ignorance. He plays a dual role. As Dante, a bus driver for a group of retarded young adults, he is hopelessly clueless and the highlight of his daily routine seems to be playing a silly trick (every day?! won't the fruit sellers catch on?!) resulting in his stealing a banana for his breakfast. He also plays a mafioso type, Johnny Stecchino, who has snitched on his fellow criminals and is now hiding for fear of his life.
Dante runs into lovely Maria (Nicoletta Braschi) who is really Johnny's wife, but she feigns an inexplicable attraction for Dante. She invites Dante to her grand villa in Palermo (Sicily), where we understand her true plot to have the lookalike simpleton killed so she can live happily with her Johnny.
The film is a comedy of misunderstandings with scenes of stolen bananas, introducing a shocked Roman Catholic Cardinal to cocaine (mistakenly as a diabetic medicine), the two look-alikes running into each other and the criminal pretending to be a mirror to keep himself hidden, a group of seeming mafiosi being led by Dante in singing a children's song enunciating the sounds that various animals make (is this an inside Italian joke, as this reminds me of the 1991 Italian film "Caro Diario" - see <http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0109382/usercomments-12> ?!), and more. Though I wish that Johnny didn't use offensive language, it was otherwise a zany and funny film showing off Benigni's comic genius. Santa Cleopatra!
--Dilip Barman, May 21, 2004
Still the most successful film financially in the history of the Italian cinema, Roberto Benigni's "Johnny Stecchino" displays the actor's out-of-this-world talents. The movie is a tale of a high-class mobster named Johnny Stecchino (Benigni) who has testified against many crime syndicates to avoid prison time and is now in hiding. Enter the dim-witted Dante (Benigni again) who is discovered by Stecchino's wife (real-life wife Nicoletta Braschi) and is then unwittingly made to look, dress and act just like her criminal husband so Dante will be killed instead. The plan will hopefully allow Stecchino to leave the country with no difficulty. The mistaken identity routine plays amazingly well as Benigni dominates the action as he always seems to do. The supporting cast is good enough to keep the project above water. Benigni continues to be a master performer and cinematic craftsman. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
I think I learned Italian from this movie, I watched it so many times.
I've simply never loved a movie as so cute and funny as this, its well worth tracking it down, Its still pretty available if you know the right places to look.
Roberto and Nicoletta are perfect together on and off screen, truly a mating of Eagles as the Romans would say.
take the perfect vaudeville act, Where you have some idiot who is just a heart of Gold, mix in a scheming Mafia donna, take a bunch of Italians in good suits add a little illegal narcotics done by politicans.
Steal a banana or two, and then change places with a murderous Cut throat assasino. What do you get? Superb cinema.
The genius with which Benigni weaves plots is most clearly displayed in
this film. Nothing in the film is left to chance. Every scene, every
action is (eventually) connected to others in a hilarious web. I've
seen this movie 6 or 7 times. My wife wants to rent it again! and I
will watch it for the 7th or 8th, having fun and marveling at the
intricacies of the plot.
An early episode is a silly parlor game called "the cabinet member's wife." What is that about? What's funny about that. It isn't, but the game returns about three-quarters of the way through with surprising twists.
People who don't watch foreign films because they don't like reading subtitles are missing a world of great films, and this is one of the best.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Johnny Stecchino review by Jeremy Lawrence
Johnny Stecchino is a delightfully funny piece of Italian film history, with flamboyant characters and American influences derived from such roots as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keatan and Woodie Allen. Although the jokes, for the most part are derived from Italian culture, their routes display common beliefs and experiences of all cultures. They play on the stereotypes of Italian culture perceived by the rest of the world. The main character Dante, played by Benigni, has a comedic and arrogant personality. He miraculously finds himself repeatedly in life threatening situations. However, he some how manages to get himself out unscathed, and due to his character the audience cannot help but laugh at his arrogance. This film displays master comedic work and the work of a brilliant framer using every inch of his presidium arch to set up and deliver the plethora of gags. Throughout the film each gag is set up primarily by setting a visual mood that allows the viewer to not only feel the joke at hand but also to live the joke. This allows the joke to run deeper into the viewer's knowledge and belief system. For instance, in the film Dante is preparing to snort a line of cocaine. Almost everyone on earth, who has watched films or television, knows what the white powder is and how the drug is used. In the stories, when Dante does not know what the powder is his uncle tells him that the powder is a drug to cure his diabetes. Through the film this knowledge is tested and the main character tries to pass the drug off as a cure for diabetes. Another of the new techniques used was that of editing as well as visuals to develop the 4 D's (Desire, Deception, Discovery, and destiny) of a traditional comedic structure to develop the comedic persona of all the gags and to tie all them together. In doing this Benigni used many traditional techniques of cross cutting and of cutting to show the action, not cutting to develop the act. Actually Benigni uses the long take, which, according to Charlie Chaplin are the way comedies are suppose to be shot, for example a shot that would normally be inter cut with close ups, such as the car in reverse gag. In the frame, Dante enters his bus and the audience is led to think that he will back up. As he turns to look at the camera in order to back up, the foliage can be scene through the window pressed closer to the camera. This makes it obvious that he is actually driving forward and not backing out and in the same shot Dante's expression draws us to his gaze without rack focusing (rabidly changing focus from one object to another). All of the visual and dialectical techniques demonstrate the comedic genius of Benigni. Although the jokes are not universal to all cultures, Benigni creates a mood of light comedy and intellectual triumph which in part explains the success of Johnny Stecchino.
Wonderful roles for Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi. I am not sure whether they got together before or after this film, but if they co-operate in their marriage as much as they do in this film, they will stay together forever. This movie is so extraordinary well written, although you must understand some of the Italian life and habits. The subtle humor will be mostly appreciated I guess by Italians who have moved abroad. They will recognize the bits and pieces that ridicule the 'ol'country', but they are no longer part of it. In a way. Insurance fraud, coke sniffing, corrupted politicians, bribed judges... The people that are best of are the ones that either don't know or don't want to know.
I first saw this movie several years ago as a "movie of the week"...what a joy! I had the film specially ordered and to date have watched it at LEAST a dozen times...I cannot get enough of this charming film! Roberto Benigni and his wife, Nicoletta Braschi are the perfect team. And the co-stars are just as fabulous...this is definitely a team effort! Most highly recommended!
|Page 1 of 3:||  |
|Newsgroup reviews||External reviews||Parents Guide|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|