Even though Roberto Benigni is very popular on this website, I doubt that many people know more than one movie of the man. Sure, everybody has heard of "La vita è bella" before, but if you ask them to name another one of his Italian movies, I'm pretty sure they can't. And yet the man is a good actor. Especially when it comes to comedies he's far above average. Not that you have to believe me of course, but when you've seen this "Johnny Stecchino", or "Johnny Toothpick" as it is called in English, you'll probably say that I'm right.
Dante is a simple and kind-hearted man who is happy driving the school bus for a group of mentally handicapped children. But his life isn't exactly very spectacular as he lives on his own, doesn't have a girlfriend or wife and only seems to have one friend, one of the handicapped children with whom he likes to steal an occasional banana. When he's almost run over by Maria, a beautiful and rich lady, all this seems to change. She seems to fall in love with him head over heals and she soon invites him to her gigantic villa in Palermo, Sicily. But what he doesn't know that he's part of an evil plot. He looks exactly the same as Maria's gangster husband, Johnny Stecchino, who's life is in big danger as the rest of the crime syndicates want him dead and buried. They have invited Dante in the hope that he will be killed instead of Johnny Stecchino...
To fully appreciate this movie I guess you have to be ready for this kind of humor. It all feels a lot like slapstick and I doubt if everybody likes that all that much. Personally I liked it in this movie. It gave it all a bit of an interesting, but surreal touch. But even though the story and its humor feel a bit like slapstick, it still gives a decent feeling of what Italy is like. They like good food and wine, they like a party so now and then, but corruption and crime aren't all that far away.
This script could easily have been used to make a very good drama with it, but I admit that the humor in it makes it a bit more special and noticeable. What also helps to remember this movie are Roberto Benigni's and Nicoletta Braschi's performances. Especially Benigni did a nice job in this double role. He gave both characters a completely different feeling and only a slightly different look, which made it even more interesting, because you certainly had to stay focused.
All in all this is a very good comedy that proves that Benigni isn't just a one-hit wonder. The story, the acting, the humor,... make this a movie that is certainly worth a try. Personally I really liked it and that's why I give it at least a 7.5/10.
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