A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this live-action Italian version of Pinocchio has many dark, confusing scenes; is (badly) dubbed into English; and, at nearly two hours, is very slow going. Characters are in jeopardy throughout: Some are injured, some appear dead for lengthy periods of time, and some actually are dead. Pinocchio has many narrow escapes -- from drowning, hanging, getting caught in an animal trap, being swallowed by a whale, and more. The movie's messages are heavy handed and repetitious, but eventually the naughty puppet does see the error of his ways.
What's the story?
Gepetto (Carlo Giuffre), a kindly puppet-maker, is desperately lonely. When a magical log appears in his workshop, he uses it to create PINOCCHIO (Roberto Benigni, voiced in English by Breckin Meyer), a puppet whom he treats like a real boy. But the puppet has a mind of his own, and when his father sends him off to school with loving parental guidance, Pinocchio is distracted by the promise of everlasting fun and great wealth. Naive and foolish, his adventures in the wide world find him the victim of tricksters, other naughty boys, and his own misbehavior. Only the beautiful blue-haired fairy (Nicoletta Braschi, voiced in English by Glenn Close) and his Cricket conscience (Peppe Barra) enable Pinocchio to finally find the goodness within himself.
Is it any good?
Skip this one: Walt Disney's animated Pinocchio is imaginative, fun, and a much better film. As if it weren't bad enough to watch the bounding energy of a misguided, middle-aged Italian actor delighting in playing a schoolboy, when he's dubbed in the screechy voice of a young English-speaking actor, the "mismatched" heroic puppet-boy is even more unappealing. Coupled with uneven pacing, a nearly two-hour running time, and inept storytelling -- some elements aren't fully developed, and others are never resolved -- the film is almost unwatchable.
Plus, there are scary moments, unnecessarily ghoulish events (Pinocchio hanging limply from a tree in silhouette; the death of his friend after being turned into a donkey) and a general randomness that precludes any satisfying character arc.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the characters who encouraged Pinocchio to misbehave. What made Pinocchio listen to them and make bad choices? Kids: Who influences your choices? Are there people in your life or in the media who encourage breaking rules? How do you deal with them?
How does this version of Pinocchio compare to others you've read or seen?
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