The Adventures Of Pinocchio

on July 26, 1996 by Ed Scheid
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   Long in a holding pattern on Savoy's release slate, "The Adventure of Pinocchio" finally comes to life via New Line. And the film itself uses a new line, contemporary filmmaking techniques and a live-action format, to retell Carlo Collodi's fairy tale, which Walt Disney made into a 1940 animated classic. The impressive Pinocchio figure here is created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, and it's the most successful element of the film, which is directed and co-written by Steve Barron ("Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"). The wooden puppet who comes to wide-eyed life is realistically integrated into the live action, and his facial expressions effectively match the words spoken by Jonathan Taylor Thomas ("Tom and Huck"), who appears only in the final scenes. The story takes place in an Italian town complete with an opera singer in the street. The old woodcarver Gepetto (Martin Landau), who has made many puppets from wooden logs, has a long-unrequited love for the woman (Genevieve Bujold) who married his brother, now deceased. After Gepetto's Pinocchio comes to life, some petty crooks ("Malice's" Bebe Neuwirth and "Judge Dredd's" Rob Schneider) try to steal him for the elaborate puppet shows staged in the theatre run by Lorenzini (Udo Kier), the film's chief scoundrel. Throughout his adventures,
   Pinocchio is advised by Pepe the Cricket (voiced by David Doyle). In the most amusing scene, Pinocchio's nose grows across a classroom after he lies, and he sneezes sawdust on the teacher. In another well-crafted special effect, the boys of the town are turned into donkeys by the water of an amusement park ride. Yet, outside of the colorful costumes and sets, the real-life parts of the film are not as effective as the fantasy elements. On the most primitive side, there is a clash of accents among the townspeople. (Eight interpreters are listed in the credits of the film, which was made in the Czech Republic.) More importantly, other than Landau, who brings warmth and genuine emotion to Gepetto, the actors don't make much of an impression; Bujold is a routine love interest, and Neuwirth, Schneider and Kier make for stock villains. Even the songs (some by Stevie Wonder) are unexceptional. Starring Martin Landau, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Genevieve Bujold and Rob Schneider. Directed by Steve Barron. Written by Sherry Mills & Steve Barron and Tom Benedek and Barry Berman. Produced by Raju Patel and Jeffrey Sneller. A New Line release. Fantasy. Rated G. Running time: 96 min
Tags: Martin Landau, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Genevieve Bujold and Rob Schneider. Directed by Steve Barron. Written by Sherry Mills & Steve Barron and Tom Benedek and Barry Berman. Produced by Raju Patel and Jeffrey Sneller. A New Line release. Fantasyteacher, special, effect, animated, contemporary
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