A great film * IF * you have the right expectations
I'm an Italian-born longtime US resident, so I think I'm well-positioned to explain this film to the US public :) First and foremost, this isn't just "a film" -- it's a "Roberto Benigni" film. By that, I mean something analogous to a "Woody Allen" film, i.e. a film where the actor/director's imprint is so POWERFUL that you can't separate the two.
Imagine considering a "Woody Allen" film without taking into account the "Woody Allen" part! Well, Roberto Benigni is essentially an Italian Woody Allen -- though, IMHO, less neurotic. LOL My advice: watch other Benigni films BEFORE "Pinocchio". I highly recommend the much acclaimed "Life is Beautiful", and the much-lighter "The Monster." If you love his other films -- as I do -- you'll do just fine with "Pinocchio." Also try to understand the "Pinocchio" story before watching this movie. I grew up with it -- its popularity in Italy is like that of "The Wizard of Oz" in the US "Pinocchio" is a very old-fashioned story, with quaint charm in its heavy-handed moralistic approach. In short, a boy (or a puppet wishing to be a boy) who disregards adult advice will get into all sorts of dire situations. Skip school and get transformed into a jackass! The real charmer is the lively personality of the puppet, and the other endearing characters, both human and magical.
Benigni is PERFECT for the role of the boy-puppet. It doesn't matter one iota how old he is; it's not just an "actor" -- it's Benigni.
Once again, Benigni is THE film in a Benigni film, just like Woody is THE film in his films.
Playing a rambunctious puppet is second nature to Benigni!! He's a total natural for that.
Foolishly, I was discouraged from watching this fine film by the negative reviews. Don't do my same mistake! BTW, rent the "Italian version": it gives you A CHOICE between Italian, English and French spoken languages. I speak all 3, and listened to all 3! I recommend the original, unless you really hate subtitles.
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