By Catholic News Service
Italian director Matteo Garrone’s live-action version of Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel, which he also who co-wrote with Massimo Ceccherini, is scrupulously faithful to the grotesqueries of its source material. As such, it falls well short of what anyone might regard as straightforward family entertainment.
A woodcutter (Roberto Benigni) carves the marionette (Federico Ielapi) of the title from a log with a strange life force within it. The resulting quasi-human figurine then faces a series of dangerous situations involving, among other threats, repeated brushes with fire, the wicked impresario (Gigi Proietti) of a puppet theater, swindlers (Ceccherini and Rocco Papaleo) and a gigantic dogfish. He cheerfully ignores the warnings of a large talking cricket (Davide Marotta) and so has to be rescued over and over by a fairy (Alida Baldari Calabria as a child, Marine Vacth as an adult). Eventually, he learns a lesson about the importance of empathy and sacrifice. But the journey that gets him there is dark one.
Dubbed in English. Intense action sequences, frequent, potentially fatal, peril. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.