Pinocchio (2020) movie review
Pinocchio, which is obviously based on the novel by Carlo Collodi, follows a puppet created by a poor woodcarver who comes to life, runs away, and tries to return home while being tricked by almost everyone he comes across. You know, Pinocchio. While this Italian made adaptation is arguably the most true to the book any adaptation has some (I assume), the film has only garnished moderately positive reviews since its release in Italy in 2019 and its US release this past December.
I’ll be totally honest, I had NO interest in seeing this film. But Rachel wanted to go, so we went. Now having seen it, surprise surprise, I have very little interest in discussing it, not to mention sending others to see it. But if I must because we are reviewers after all, let’s talk about Pinocchio starring Federico Ielapi and Roberto Benigni. What’s that, Benigni was already in a Pinocchio in 2002? Well this time he’s Geppetto and not horrifyingly miscast.
Look when it comes to reasons to go see this, I can’t think of that many. It is a good looking movie! The cinematography and color are pretty sharp, and somehow this film manages a really good blend of practical effects and CGI. I think most of it is practical, but it’s honestly hard to tell in some scenes. (Which is a good thing in this case.) The look of Pinocchio for example is really great! For a while I thought they just did it digitally, but that would be an INSANE amount of work. I think it’s a practical, and if that’s the case- bravo.
Like I mentioned before, this adaptation is also VERY book-accurate. So if you are a fan of the story and you want to see it done justice, you will probably enjoy this film more than I did. Heck Rachel enjoyed this film more than I did! But the true-to-novel story is actually where my problems for this film begin. Going back to the effects, this version of Pinocchio goes all-in on the practical effects when it comes to the fantastical creations of the story; yet they are all brought to a human level. This means cricket is like a kid in cricket makeup. Super weird I know. And that’s just one of many terrifying design choices in this film. The worst of which is a giant tuna with a human face. I watched two new movies this week: one featured this nightmare fuel tuna-man, and the other featured a solid 25+ minutes of a home birth. One of those stuck with me, and it was definitely the tuna…
Now my other big problem with this film is actually the story. Now now, I know that I can’t judge a movie for the source material. Except, I can. A movie is an adaptation, and if something doesn’t work, it falls to the writers who failed to change or not change something that doesn’t translate well. In this case, it’s the titular Pinocchio, who in the novel was created as basically a warning for children. In every version of the film, Pinocchio follows a very similar arc. However while the Disney one is very short and sweet, this film is over two-hours long. So it boils down to Pinocchio spending what feels like the entire two-hours not learning his lesson or growing as a character. Sure there is a little bit of learning by the end, but his character growth does not resolve the plot, sheer chance does. This really hurts the potentially compelling narrative. Just cut out a solid thirty minutes of ‘Pinocchio does this, somebody warns him not to, he does it anyway, he gets in trouble.’ We get it.
Okay if I am being honest, the biggest reason I didn’t enjoy this film was the Italian to English dubbing. I went to see the film in theaters as it was indented, not knowing it was going to be dubbed. Unless its a very cheesy martial arts film, I DO NOT like it when none of the audio matches up to the actors delivering said dialogue. It’s just distracting. Anime I can do if I feel like it, but this is live action, so it just looks uncanny. Now I know that’s not the movie’s fault really. In fact it’s probably good in Italian. So if you want me summary, there it is! If you like the story and you don’t mind reading, wait until this is out at Redbox and rent it so you can watch it the way it was made. Or go see it if you have a theater open and you must! I just didn’t care about about the way the story was adapted to consider a second viewing. Does that sound contradictory to my ‘way it was intended’ speech? Well it is, but I also just don’t care for the story. On that note, here’s a very biased 5/10.
So Pinocchio? Did you go see it? What did you think? Did you like it more than I did? Whatever your thoughts, be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, let us know in the comments what you’d like to read from us next!
-review by Ryan Prince