Friday, September 16, 2011


Written, produced, directed, and starring Roberto Benigni

Pinocchio is the timeless tale of an innocent puppet who struggles to grow up into a real boy, but he keeps making all the mistakes of childhood. It’s archetypal. It’s a fairy tale. And it’s a story that will never, ever be a good live action movie.

Im just going to say it right now: Pinocchio is one of the greatest animated films of all time. It’s one of the greatest FILMS of all time. Period. It’s a shining jewel in Disney’s crown. But watching a beautifully animated puppet turn into a donkey and talk to a cricket is adorable. Watching a balding Italian man in his 40s doing the same… well, it’s just creepy.

Life is a-beautiful! I am Italian!

Throughout the movie, he does the same kind of physical schtick that would be cute if he werent a 40-year-old man wearing a dunce cap.

If I don’t look at him or acknowledge his existence,
maybe he'll stop trying to act precocious.

Unfortunately, the less people laugh at his antics, the harder Roberto Benigni mugs for the camera. I call that the Robin Williams Guide to Being Insufferable. By the time his closest friend (Topher Grace) turns into a donkey and dies because a farmer works him too hard, I decided that this was the single creepiest, most misguided family film since the last adaptation of Pinocchio that I saw.

So is it gay? God I hope not. On one hand, it’s about an outsider trying to win the respect of his father… but he can’t, because he constantly lapses into childish behavior. That’s basically the plot of at least a dozen gay indie comedies that I’ve not seen but pretended I did. On the other hand, it is really, really irredeemably awful. And not in a campy way. It’s basically the movie equivalent of a creepy uncle who sits at the kids table during family reunions and pretends that he’s seven. So no. That’s not gay. It’s just sad.

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