Easily the most interesting thing about Roberto Benigni’s Pinocchio is just how true an adaptation it is from the original tale. Watchmen ain’t got shit on this. Perhaps only Gus Van Sant’s Psycho can surpass it. It’s almost a scene-for-scene, line-for-line transcription of story to screen (with some scenes excluded for time). The only thing explicitly changed is a random expansion of the Candlewick character (called Leonardo here). Benigni seemed to go out of his way to include him in as many scenes as possible. Why only change that one aspect? Hard to explain. Anyway, this is probably why many reviewers of the film regarded it as so bizarre. They chalk it up to misguided vanity that Benigni would prance around on screen spouting macabre nonsense, perhaps not realizing (or deciding to not acknowledge) that the nonsense was just the original story. It would be like if a Cinderella adaptation was made where in the end birds fly down and poke out the eyes of the evil stepsisters striking them blind for the rest of their wretched lives. Or a Snow White adaptation where the evil queen has to dance in burning hot iron shoes until she dies. American reviewers would be like “WTF, mate! This is a children’s film!” Benigni simply made the most accurate adaptation of a book that we may have ever witnessed and it probably flew over a lot of people’s heads. The real story just isn’t particularly well known here. Does that mean it’s actually good? Ha! Oh deary me, no.
Do I dare do a Settings 101 for Pinocchio? Seems so obviously Italy. Although the fact of the matter is that I can’t remember if they actually say that it’s set in Italy. It obviously is, but treats it as a given. You almost have to give it a D, just for leaving it implicit. Instead I think I’ll just make a SklogCycle for the film. Don’t know what that is? Neither does anyone else cause I just made it up. Inspired by the ridiculous(ly awful) voice cast of Pinocchio, I’m going to make up a BMT cycle featuring stars of that cast. It would be called Pi-NOPE-io cause Patrick nailed it. Let’s see:
- Scattergories (Calendar): The Country Bears (features Queen Latifah who voiced The Dove)
- Comedy: Underdog (features Jim Belushi who voiced Farmer George)
- Action: The Mod Squad (features Eddie Griffin who voiced The Cat)
- Horror/Thriller: Mary Reilly (features Glenn Close who voiced The Blue Fairy)
- Rom Com: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (features Regis Philbin who voiced Ringmaster)
- Chain Reaction: The Out-of-Towners (features John Cleese who voiced Talking Cricket)
- Sci-Fi: Delgo (features Eric Idle who voiced Medoro)
- Razzie: Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (features Breckin Meyer who voiced Pinocchio)
- Scattergories (Based-on-a-book): Christmas with the Kranks (features Cheech Marin who voiced The Fox)
This cycle would physically harm me. The Country Bears, Underdog, Delgo, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, and Christmas with the Kranks all in one cycle? No thanks. Pretty impressive though as I even got a Chain Reaction coming from Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and two transition points, which means this cycle could have legitimately been inserted between the Calendar and Based-on-a-book cycles. Boom. Don’t worry about it.
‘Ello everyone! Pinocchio? More like Pi-NOPE-io!!!! Benigni is out of his mind, let’s get into it:
- The Good – It is a beautiful movie. The acting, given that it is an Italian film (by which I mean, there is clearly a different style of comedic acting in Italy, far more slapstick, which you can see in other Benigni films), is rather good. It is an incredibly bold accurate retelling of a children’s tale from 1885 …
- The Bad – Yeah, so anyone familiar with Grimm’s Fairy Tales might know that the original tales are rather, hmmm how do you say? Bonkers insane terrifying nightmare fuel? This is no different. At one point the Blue Fairy fakes her own death and effectively makes a tombstone that says “Fuck you Pinocchio, you did this!!” and he flips out only for her to be like “haha, you passed the test! Hooray!” At another point she has creepy rabbits with a coffin come in to convince Pinocchio he is dying so he’ll drink medicine. At the end of the movie he is essentially working himself to death because he “learned his lesson” about being a good boy. It is ridiculous.
- The BMT – … I am very much glad we did this movie for BMT. It is super weird, but at the same time it makes you say “why did someone at Miramax think this would sell again?”. The Brekin Meyer voiceover is bar-none the worst voiceover in movie history. I am not at all shocked that zero people could psych themselves into saying “you know what? There is more good than bad here”. But yet it is an interesting and beautiful movie nonetheless. It is wild and weird and bad and I would totally watch it again with someone game to see a wild and weird and bad film. So there.
Phew. I’m going to cut it a bit short to announce a new project from BMTHQ. It was five years since our first BMT last February and that got me thinking about how much I’ve learned about bad movies in those years and also just how different our approach to watching bad movies is now than then. So in order to take advantage of this wealth of knowledge we have decided to introduce the Bad Movie Twins Hall of Fame (BMTHoF). Last week we voted our first class with the stipulation that it must have been over five years since we saw the movie (so if you look at the archive anything from before Norbit on June 30, 2011. In the coming months we will be producing induction speeches for each of the five movies we voted in and (and this is depressing) at least one of us will be re-watching each film. Oof. How do we find the time (it is hard, our lives are hard, pity us). Without further ado the first BMTHoF class is:
Old Dogs, Battlefield Earth, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, Wicker Man, and Norbit.
I know that I for one am especially excited for watching Old Dogs and Norbit (still the most unpleasant movie I have ever seen) again. And Jamie is going to demolish the 1000 page book for Battlefield Earth. And when it is done a de novo preview and recap will be created for the Archives! Truly exciting times at BMTHQ.