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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pinocchio is a live-action Italian (with English subtitles) retelling of the famous story about a puppet boy, with some perilous and unsettling scenes for younger viewers. Those familiar with the original story won't be surprised by the plot. But this version is far more quirky and darker than previous versions, including Disney's 1940 animated offering. The values and morals of Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi) are explored as he initially refuses to go to school or respect his maker, Geppetto (Roberto Benigni). But eventually as the story progresses he understands the strength in family and respect, as well as, famously, the importance of telling the truth. Pinocchio does encounter many villainous characters along the way who attempt to manipulate and steal from him. But it's so surreal and characters often do not even resemble people, which makes it seem more fantastical and less real. There is brief violence when Pinocchio throws a hammer in the face of the talking cricket. There is also much peril throughout the tale. Pinocchio struggles to swim in the sea, is kidnapped by a traveling circus, and of course is swallowed by a whale. There is also brief alcohol consumption, but it's subtle enough that children may not even realize.
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What's the story?
PINOCCHIO is the story of a young puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy. Downtrodden woodcarver Geppetto (Roberto Benigni) one day makes a puppet, and much to his surprise, it comes to life. Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi) should be at school leading a normal life, but curiosity gets the better of him and he winds up on an adventure far away from home.
Is it any good?
This movie comes from the creative mind of director Matteo Garrone who brings his distinctive surrealist and dark cinematic style to a much known and loved tale. This live-action version of Pinocchio -- in Italian with English subtitles -- is very much a retelling of the original Carlo Collodi story as opposed to the 1940 Disney animation, and it thrives in the absurd world that's spawned from the writer's mind. Garrone doesn't shy away from being strange, and this movie wears it's bizarre tone and aesthetic like a badge of honor.
The look is somewhat unsettling though, and what transpires is quite a scary film. Even though it remains accessible to all the family, the sheer oddity of it may well lead to a restless night, even for adults. Benigni -- who played Pinocchio in a terrible 2002 live-action version -- is brilliant as Geppetto. In fact one of the downsides is that he's not given more screen time, as he's undoubtedly the best thing about the film. While Pinocchio's adventures are more integral to the plot, it's a joy when back in the presence of the aforementioned woodcarver.
Talk to your kids about ...
Discuss the relationship between Pinocchio and Geppetto. How does it change over the course of the movie? Geppetto proves to be a strong role model in Pinocchio's life. What positive role models do you have in your life?
Pinocchio's nose grows every time he lies. Talk about the notion of lying. What are the repercussions of telling lies in real life? Why is it important that we tell the truth?
How does this version of the story compare to others, such as the Disney animation? Which one did you prefer and why? Why do you think this is a story that keeps getting retold?
- In theaters: December 19, 2019
- Cast: Federico Ielapi, Roberto Benigni, Rocco Papaleo
- Director: Matteo Garrone
- Studio: 01 Distribution
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Puppets
- Character strengths: Courage, Curiosity
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: August 6, 2020
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