No Lie: New Benigni Movie a Likely Dud
His long-gestating pet project, a $45 million live-action version of the children's tale "Pinocchio," in which he stars as the puppet who wants to be a real boy, is being torn to shreds even before critics have a chance to see it.
According to Tuesday's edition of the New York Daily News, although Benigni's "Pinocchio" is due in theaters Christmas Day, its studio, Miramax, is still denying reviewers a chance to look at it -- a very bad sign.
Somehow, however, Rex Reed, a reviewer for the weekly New York Observer, got to view it. (Perhaps he pulled some strings? Sorry.)
"Lethal for kids and an unspeakable insult for adults, this unreleaseable fiasco is a torture for all," Reed wrote.
The New York Post, also denied a press preview of the film, ran the trade-paper Variety's review in its Tuesday paper, under the headline, "Lousy Nose Job."
Variety called it "a film substantially lacking in personality, energy, magic and humor ... unlikely to displace Disney's 1940 animated classic as the quintessential screen version."
Miramax, whose high-profile Christmas movies this year are Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" and the musical "Chicago," claims that "Pinocchio" isn't being screened for critics because prints of it still aren't ready, given that the movie has to be dubbed into English from its original Italian.
But, the News' critic, Jack Matthews, notes, "(Miramax) did manage to get one out of the lab in time for a premiere Sunday in Los Angeles, but no critics were invited."