The Adventures Of Pinocchio

The Adventures Of Pinocchio

The classic tale of an enchanted puppet who is magically transformed into a wisecracking child actor, The Adventures Of Pinocchio has been touted as a darker interpretation than the Disney version. But it's just as faithless to Carlo Collodi's novel, and its storytelling is actually far less skillful than that of its animated predecessor. It wants to be taken seriously: It omits the Blue Fairy and makes Geppetto (Martin Landau) a melancholy, misunderstood woodcarver whose puppet offspring is a manifestation of his unrequited love for the wife of his deceased brother. This proves more pretentious than compelling; perhaps to compensate, the rest of the movie uneasily adheres to the usual trappings of family-film fantasy, such as a meaningless catchphrase ("Look out, coming through!"), simplistic resolutions, and the presence of Jonathan Taylor Thomas. The film excels in fairy-tale details, and Pinocchio himself—a blend of puppetry and animatronics courtesy of Jim Henson's Creature Shop—is an ingenious hybrid of little-boy energy and marionette-like stiffness. Besides, it's probably impossible to create a faithful and commercially appealing version of Collodi's story, an oft-disturbing tale whose surreal and perilous exploits may be more suited for the Brothers Quay. It's a crying shame, though, that such gorgeous art direction and effects couldn't have worked in tandem with a better storyline.

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