The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996)

A live-action Pinocchio made without Walt?  Jiminey Cricket!  The 
first half of this Carlo Collodi adaptation is not without its 
charms:  the storybook look of Geppetto's village, shot on location 
in Prague; nice underplaying by Martin Landau as the lonely puppet 
maker; Rob Schneider and Bebe Neuwirth hamming it up as the minor 
villains Fox and Cat; and the near-seamless special effects that 
bring a certain wooden boy (voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas) to 
life.  While darker than the animated version, the drama is still 
decidedly kid-powered, such as a scene placing Pinocchio in peril 
on, gasp!, a rooftop.  The period detail is also very nice, as is 
one fabulously photographed scene, at a courthouse, where the 
costumes and the murals blend together.

The movie takes a sour turn in the second half, during a hideous 
production number that attempts to blend musical styles spanning a 
couple of centuries.  This shrill, dissonant mess signals the 
beginning of the end.  The movie never recovers from that misstep, 
despite such interesting imagery as boys changing into jackasses 
and sea monsters swallowing boats whole.  Pepe, the cricket-with-a-
conscience, is also on hand, albeit in computer-generated form.  
He's voiced by David Doyle, who, regrettably, makes no references 
to either whistling or wishing upon a star.  And how about those 
tuneless tunes by Stevie Wonder and Brian May?  Woof!  This version 
of PINOCCHIO may be quite the kids movie, but the rest of us should 
stay put until Thanksgiving, when Disney's 101 DALMATIONS is due.  
Directed by Steve Barron.  (Rated "PG"/96 min.)

Grade: C

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: August 4, 1996

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