This faithful, humorless, altogether insufferable (and, by all accounts, hastily dubbed) version of Carlo Collodi's 1883 fairytale about the trouble-causing puppet who longs to be human is the director's lifelong dream.
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It's an oddity that will be avoided by millions of people, this new Pinocchio. Osama bin Laden could attend a showing in Times Square and be confident of remaining hidden.
Big, opulent and frequently wretched, Pinocchio is so bad that its American distributor, Miramax, opened it on Christmas Day with scant advertising and no advance press screening.
The most bizarre cinematic experience of 2002. So misguided as to be utterly mystifying, this shameless vanity project is almost surreal enough to be entertaining. Almost.
The recut American version is truly awful, but a good 75 percent of the awfulness is attributable to Miramax, the film's distributor.
An unintended gift to midnight-movie programmers and students of the bizarre, Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio could have become a "Howard The Duck" -- or "Battlefield Earth"-like synonym for cinematic miscalculation, were its title not already so familiar.
There's no getting past the shockingly poorly dubbed voice work of the English speaking cast; Meyer's voice is particularly shrill and grating.
By film's end I was fantasizing that Peter Stormare would drop by with his "Fargo" wood-chipper in tow, but it was not to be. Appalling.
Benigni's Pinocchio is meant to be adorable, but he comes off as less an enchanted puppet than as a harmlessly deranged middle-aged man prancing about in the kind of froufrou cream-colored pantsuit that Dinah Shore retired to her back closet in 1977.
Loud, crass and full of slapstick humor that the Three Stooges would be ashamed of. And it is almost completely lacking in charm and nuance.