Based on the 1883 Italian The Adventures of Pinocchio, this version of Pinocchio is dark, maybe not the best for kids, but so weird that it’s good.


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Based on the 1883 Italian The Adventures of Pinocchio, this version of Pinocchio is dark, maybe not the best for kids, but so weird that it’s good.


Director(s) Matteo Garrone
Screenplay By Matteo Garrone, Massimo Ceccherini
Date Released (Theatrical) 12/25/2020
Genre(s) Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Drama, Fantasy
Duration 2 Hours, 5 Minutes
Rating PG-13
Noted Cast
Geppetto Roberto Benigni
Pinocchio Federico Ielapi
Mangiaduoco Gigi Proietti
Blue Fairy (Adult) Marine Vacth
Blue Fairy (Child) Alida Baldari Calabria

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Film Summary

Geppetto is a poor man who struggles to find work, is single, and has no signs of a significant other. However, after a puppet circus rolls into town, he is inspired to build a puppet, and, luckily for him, a strange piece of wood is given to him due to scaring the woodcutter. After a night of chipping away, that log becomes Pinocchio – a mischievous young child who seems to always get into trouble.

But, one of the problems with the trouble Pinocchio courts is that it isn’t what just leads to him getting yelled at and then ending up back home by nightfall. Pinocchio gets kidnapped, lost, and goes on full-length adventures. The kind that sends Geppetto into a frenzy for with Pinocchio being all he has, he has no problem traveling by land or sea to find his son.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: You see multiple attempts on Pinocchio’s life, including drowning and hanging. Also, Pinocchio is gullible and led astray often, so he ends up stealing and telling a lot of lies to cover for himself.
  • Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: Once the fairy comes into the film, you’ll get a few laughs. Also, Roberto Benigni is just a charming man who surely will make you laugh with his silliness, maybe even cry at times.

Cast & Characters

Geppetto (Roberto Benigni)

Geppetto (Roberto Benigni) carving Pinocchio
Geppetto (Roberto Benigni)

While experienced in woodwork, with no one needing such done, or finding hiring to be too expensive, Geppetto, like many, finds himself too proud to beg but not too proud to accept generous donations. But, with seeing a puppet theater come to town, and believing he could make a living creating puppets, so comes the creation of Pinocchio. Which, if he didn’t fall in love with his creation, would have been his meal ticket.

Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi)

Made from a magical piece of wood, Pinocchio’s goal for most of the movie isn’t so much becoming a real boy as it is avoiding all the obligations that are expected of a good one. Thus he runs away often from responsibility and finds meeting both nefarious and curious people. All of whom bring so much to his person that he slowly finds himself more fleshed out, from just living life, than most of the humans he encounters.

Mangiaduoco (Gigi Proietti)

Mangiaduoco (Gigi Proietti) talking to Pinocchio
Mangiaduoco (Gigi Proietti)

Mangiaduoco is the owner of a traveling puppet show whose puppets inspire Geppetto to make Pinocchio.

Blue Fairy (Marine Vacth & Alida Baldari Calabria)

The Blue Fairy is a magical creature who meets Pinocchio in child form and becomes fond of him enough to present the opportunity to make him into a real boy.

Review

Highlights

It’ll Make You Wish It Was A Series

So much goes unexplained in this version of Pinocchio. The title character’s journeys feel like they needed to be episodes within themselves rather than us getting clips jammed into a two-hour movie. For whether it is Pinocchio’s time with Mangiaduoco who has talking puppets, and the question if they are slaves and especially his time with the Blue Fairy, you are left not only wanting more but with questions. Especially in terms of how magic works and if the common person is aware of all that is happening away from the cities?

The Look & Vibe of the Movie

There is something about Pinocchio that may remind you of an 80s or 90s movie. Be it Jim Henson’s work or even Tim Burton a bit, there is something to its dark and creepy nature combined with the almost light, sometimes comical fantasy elements that easily draw you in. One prime example is Pinocchio’s time with the Blue Fairy and watching her and the snail, who present a more lofty world than what Pinocchio has known.

Add in the off-putting moments of seeing this talking cricket and a talking tuna, and it just feels like a potential epic that is slightly disturbing but all the more memorable.

The Connection You’ll Have With Some Characters

Roberto Benigni remains one of the most charismatic and engaging actors the world has ever seen. Even with playing a destitute man, desperate and lonely, there is an undeniable charm there. One that makes it so, as a newfound father, you feel everything and more for him, and it is his love for Pinocchio that makes you love Pinocchio.

But, while this film is called Pinocchio, I should note it is the people we meet through the character and not so much the character itself you adore. For, as noted below, many aren’t fleshed out, so you’re left with this immense intrigue. Be it trying to understand the Blue Fairy who transforms from a child to an adult, without much explanation. Also, there are other characters like Mangiafuoco who you just want to know if they are as evil as they appear or simply misunderstood.

Now, this isn’t to say the characters are so interesting it’ll drive you to read the book this is based on but, as noted above, it leaves you wanting more.

On The Fence

It’s Easy To Get Lost Or Not Understand What’s Going On

Like many, my knowledge of Pinocchio stems from the Disney classic, which is on their list of live-action remakes, which will star Tom Hanks. However, this is not based on the same property we’re familiar with and, as made clear at this point, isn’t necessarily geared towards children. With that in mind, as much as you recognize Gepetto, Pinocchio, and this creepy cricket who tries to steer Pinocchio in the right direction, everything else is foreign.

But what may trouble you the most is that rarely is anything explained on top of everything being foreign. For example, Pinocchio clearly isn’t a normal human child, and Geppetto isn’t with anyone to have a child with, yet no one makes a big deal of that. Also, magic is a real thing, but whether that is universally known isn’t made clear. And as much as you may appreciate Pinocchio’s adventures, there is the constant question of how far does he go? How much time has passed, and should we see Pinocchio as immortal since multiple attempts on his life failed?

One question piggybacks on another to the point you hit a crossroad of just enjoying the film as it is, or finding yourself listing all the things it could have done better.

Overall

Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

The main issue that Garrone’s Pinnochio has is that it challenges what American audiences find familiar, and it doesn’t necessarily ease you into the Italian version of the character and their adventures. Rather, it throws you right in, and for some, that could lead to a bit of disconnect and finding that too much is going on with the assumption you get it. However, for others, the visual, the characters, and Pinocchio’s journey, it may intrigue you to the point of wanting to see more.

Hence the positive label. While definitely not for everyone, this version of Pinocchio definitely may speak to those who like the idea of darker versions of classic fairy tales.

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Pinocchio Ending (Spoilers)

Pinocchio (Federic Lelapi) looking confused
Pinocchio (Federic Lelapi)

After many adventures where Pinocchio is either led astray or courts trouble, he finds his father, Geppetto, in the mouth of a whale-like fish and saves them from being digested. Afterwards, they find a cottage, and Pinocchio finally acts like a good son. Thus he earns the opportunity, from the Blue Fairy, to become a real boy.

Does Pinocchio Have Sequel Potential?

With Pinocchio becoming a real boy, the main thing which makes him interesting is gone. So outside of seeing whether he still has a connection to the fantasy world, post becoming human, what else is there to see?

Summary

It'll Make You Wish It Was A Series - 86%
The Look & Vibe of the Movie - 85%
The Connection You'll Have With Some Characters - 83%
It's Easy To Get Lost Or Not Understand What's Going On - 72%

82%

While definitely not for everyone, this version of Pinocchio definitely may speak to those who like the idea of darker versions of classic fairy tales.

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