Johnny Stecchino (1991) Poster

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Great comedy of misunderstanding
Stevetalley26 August 2004
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.
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The "Titanic" of Italy.
tfrizzell3 July 2002
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.
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Great Benigni !
belfi17 July 2005
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.
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what a good film
macgyver08831 January 2007
Warning: 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.
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Roberto Benigni does it again
Dante-2714 January 1999
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.
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Absolutely gut-splittingly funny!
limegirl18 June 2000
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!
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will make anyone want to go to Sicily
lee_eisenberg27 October 2006
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!
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Santa Cleopatra
therubicon10 October 2005
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.
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Funny film showing off Roberto Benigni's comic genius with elements of Marx Brothers and Mr. Bean
Dilip22 May 2004
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 <> ?!), 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
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Benigni A Couple Of Years Before His Star Rose
ccthemovieman-112 July 2006
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.
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michelemuciaccia1 July 2008
One of the best comedies of Benigni. A fable, grandiose, based on a game of misunderstandings and misinterpretations. This film demonstrates the skill and ability ironic and comic of this great actor and director. As usual, the vote fell just because this site has a tendency to raise the vote and to lower depending on the sympathy of those who download, the film unfairly over the Internet and then play to make the alleged critics. One of the masterpieces of Benigni, other than the cretinate who say that precedes the masterpieces like life is beautiful. The masterpiece is already that. And all the comedy turns to guilt of a banana.ahaha
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Classic slapstick!
dantbrooks12 August 2003

I thoroughly recommend this film. Some jokes may go over the head of non-Italian speakers but it shouldn't really ruin your enjoyment of a classic Benigni film. My favourite scene was when "lo zio" (the uncle) was driving Dante back from Palermo train station and explaining the problems of Sicilian life to him - I nearly p*****d myself!
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Hilariously fun character piece
BadWebDiver27 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This is a top-class comic story, and my favorite Roberto Benigni movie. The characters and situations work absolutely wonderfully, and I love the interaction and the plot twists in this story.

(Spoiler warning)

My favorite segment is the banana sequence (and no, it's not what you would expect with a banana sequence). The classic "double think" as the situation develops, the differing points of view of the various characters involved, and the way the whole sequence escalates is totally brilliant in its execution.

For any comedy fan, this one is a must-see!
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Hysterically funny. Begnini is a comic genius
Kane25 March 1999
I laughed till my ribs hurt. Not only is the farcical script marvelous, but as a physical comic Begnini has got to be in the top ten in the history of film.
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so many reasons
Kirpianuscus7 February 2018
...for see it. first, the lovely use of the legacy of old fashion tradition. the second, the genius of Roberto Benigni. not the last , Nicoletta Braschi. not the less , Palermo. and the predictable parts and the crumbs from Charlot , the romanticism and Italian spices. one of comedies who are more than humor, entertainment or moral lesson. but a trip across yourself. because the gift of Benigni is to tell, in smart manner, not a story but the story about his public. this film is a good example.
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Another masterpiece by Benigni
zeka1108026 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
When you think about Benigni, humor in all it's varieties and unbelievable situations are dominant motives. And again, his (Dante) partner is amazing actress and producer Nicoletta Braschi (Maria). In the movie, Dante starting as an ordinary, but a little bit strange guy. His accidental meeting with Maria change his life at all. He is going to visits her at Sicily, but doesn't know about her husband (Johnny Stechinno) who is targeted mafia boss. The biggest problem for him is amazing similarity with him (also stared by Benigni), but as a naive man Dante thinks that the biggest problem is about one stolen banana. Misunderstanding is key feature. Benigni acting is always amazing, maybe the same as combination of actors in old speechless movies (for example Charlie Chaplin in ''City Lights'') and Luis De Funes (in ''L'Avare'' for example). My big recommendation for all who prefer comic movies, Italian landscapes and of course - Benigni.
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A simple misunderstanding with a banana to criticize the Sicilian mafia
losindiscretoscine26 October 2016
Years before his international recognition thanks to "Life is beautiful", Roberto Benigni notched up success after success due to a series of comedies that became remarkably popular in Italy. Johnny Stecchino is one of those forgotten gem and yet the Italian actor was at the peak of his art. Director and double-hatted actor in this comedy based on fruity misunderstandings (go figure!), Benigni leads the film by himself even though his loyal partner Nicoletta Braschi and Paolo Bonacelli help to give vivacity and rhythm to the film. Even if the humour is intentionally irreverent and it leads to absurd situations that draw a smile on the public, Benigni does not resort to mundane humour and he uses a simple misunderstanding with a banana to criticize the Sicilian mafia. A classic movie that, contrary to other comedies from the 90s, has won the race against time since it celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2016. Full review on our blog : 1991-roberto-benigni/
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Roberto Benigni is the coolest man alive!!!
benignifan28 February 2002
Johnny Stecchino is an excellent example of why Roberto Benigni is coolest man alive. I absolutely love this film...of course I love anything that is associated with Roberto Benigni. I think he gave a wonderful comedic performance (or performances considering he played a dual role). I love the character of Johnny Stecchino...mostly because of Benigni's charm. I could go on and on about how much I love this movie. I love Roberto and I love Johnny Stecchino!!!
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Oh Santa Cleopatra... funny!
michelerealini10 November 2005
"Johnny Stecchino" (1991) is one of the funniest Benigni movies. Here the actor plays a double role.

A naive and unaware school bus driver, who looks like a Mafioso, is invited to Sicily for a holiday. The plan is exploiting the physical likeness of the two for killing him, so the Mafioso could take advantage of the others believing him dead...

The movie is a slapstick comedy, with a succession of misunderstandings and comical situations. The unaware man never understands he's dealing with Mafia, and reaches to put the organization through a crisis as well! The feature is a refined satire, the film is not vulgar at all. Roberto Benigni is so funny... His presence, the expressions of the face and of the eyes make him a new Charlie Chaplin.

I suggest to see that movie in the original language version -possibly with subtitles for who doesn't understand Italian. With the original voices the film is definitely funnier.

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The most hilarious film ever !
enricobelfi16 February 2003
The incredible Roberto Benigni played the role of his lifetime in this movie. A double-role in fact. I won't bother you repeating the story; suffice to say that your slapstick collection is not complete without this treasure.

I must admit that for non-Italian speakers, it may be more difficult to understand the most subtle parts of the film. It is particularly great if you understand the Italian society (north v south, mafia culture, etiquettes).

Should you be able to lay your hands on this one, get an italian course: it's worth it!
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One of my top five films of all time
peteypop12 April 1999
Roberto Benigni is a combination of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Mr. Bean. He is one of Italy's treasures. The film is hilarious and I laughed from beginning to end. His writing, directing and acting are top notch. One of the top five films I have ever seen.
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Great Movie
dormishle12 January 2006
A naive and shy school bus driver is a perfect match to a Mafioso who is wanted dead. Stecchino, his nickname, or Toothpick, is invited to Sicily for a holiday. The plan is to exploit the physical likeness of the two for killing him, so the Mafioso can take advantage of the others believing him dead...

I think this is an excellent movie. I found it utterly hilarious, perhaps one of the funniest Italian movies ever. Of course the language is Italian, but there is the edition with English subtitles. But!!!... you gotta watch it in Italian. English subtitles totally spoil all the fun of the movie, and the jokes can NOT be translated. I don't recommend it to those who don't understand Italian.
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Even though full of humor, it still gives an idea of the real Italy
philip_vanderveken2 September 2005
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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You'll need to wear "Depends" watching this
csamek2 May 2002
The combination of terrific physical comedy with the clever dialogue makes this subtitled movie glad you know how to read. Roberto Benigni takes a common theme of a look a like and turns it into one terrific comic vignette after another. His conversations of misunderstandings are brilliant.
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A lightweight little charmer from the Italian little clown
bob the moo16 January 2002
A bus driver, Dante is picked up by a pretty woman, Maria, and taken to Palmetto. Once there he is dressed in a certain way and given a toothpick to carry in his mouth. Unbeknownst to him, he is a double of mafia informant Toothpick Johnny and Maria is setting him up to be killed in her husband's place. With misunderstandings piling up on top of misunderstandings Dante manages to evade assassination despite the attentions of the whole town.

Before the Oscar, Benigni made this lightweight comedy that, in the mould of many old fashioned comedies, relies on the old double/mistaken identity chestnut to set it going. The story is pure daft, once we get past the double thing we still have to believe that Dante thinks he is being chased because he stole a banana! However it's still very funny in a comic fashion. The story ticks along through several set pieces - the banana theft, the opera, the dinner party etc, they're all charming because of Dante the clown - his charming fish out of water innocence is quite amusing.

Benigni is good in dual roles - the best of course being Dante but the real Johnny is good as well. The rest of the cast are good but are only really foils for Benigni clowning.

Overall it is very lightweight. It isn't laugh out loud funny but it has a certain comic charm throughout and does have some quite funny situations.
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