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Film / The Adventures of Pinocchio

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The Adventures of Pinocchio is a 1996 film based on the story of the same name. The film was directed and co-written by Steve Barron (Electric Dreams, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Coneheads), along with Sherry Mills, Tom Benedek and Barry Berman.

Although relatively faithful to the original novel, certain liberties are taken to make the narrative more contained, such as making the three major antagonists into a single composite villain and giving Geppetto a love interest.

The film stars Martin Landau as Geppetto, Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Pinocchio, Rob Schneider as Volpe, Udo Kier as Lorenzini, Bebe Neuwirth as Felinet, David Doyle (in his final film appearance) as Pepe and Geneviève Bujold as Leona.

In 1999, a sequel called The New Adventures of Pinocchio was released.

This adaptation of The Adventures of Pinocchio provides examples of:

  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Geppetto was going to propose to Leona, but she married his brother before he could work up the nerve.
  • Actor Allusion: It's not the first time Bebe Neuwirth portrayed an anthropomorphic feline villain, as she provided the voice of Mirage from Aladdin: The Series.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Volpe, having been degraded from a Con Man into a clueless Bumbling Sidekick who's regularly pushed around by his more cunning partner, Felinet.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Pinocchio takes a while to do anything heroic, but he gets there with some persuasion by Pepe.
  • Adaptational Karma: In this version of the tale the antagonists actually get their comeuppance!
  • Adaptation Species Change: In this version, the fox and the cat are humans with Animal Motifs named Volpe and Felinet respectively. They turn into the animals they are based on at the end.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Lorenzini is more malicious than Mangiafuoco and the Terrible Dogfish.
  • Adapted Out: The Fairy. Leona is a very loose counterpart to her.
  • Agony of the Feet: A few moments after Pinocchio burns down Lorenzini's theatre, his foot catches on fire.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Geppetto believed this. He's wrong. Leona does love him.
  • Alpha Bitch: Felinet
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Lorenzini's park for naughty boys Terra Magica as it turns them into donkeys.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Pinocchio
  • Award-Bait Song: Kiss Lonely Good-Bye and Hold On To Your Dream by Stevie Wonder, as well as What Are We Made Of by Brian May and Sissel.
  • Bald of Evil: Lorenzini wears a toupee.
  • Beard of Evil: Lorenzini has a mustache and a goatee in addition to being the main villain.
  • Big Bad: Lorenzini, who orchestrates just about every obstacle Pinocchio encounters.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing / Faux Affably Evil: Lorenzini and Felinet act friendly to Pinocchio, despite being Obviously Evil.
  • Body Horror:
    • The boys are transformed into donkeys when they drink Lorenzini's cursed water at Terra Magica.
    • Lorenzini's face grossly distorts when he becomes the giant sea-monster.
  • Bookends:
    • The movie opens and ends with Pepe the Cricket narrating.
    • The heart that Geppetto carves into the tree that would become Pinocchio was carved on the same day Leona accepted his brother's proposal and has a crack between the initials afterward. When Pinocchio transforms into a real boy, the crack in the heart carving is the first thing to disappear, followed immediately by the rest of the heart.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Geppetto accepts to give Pinocchio up to Lorenzini so that he pays the fee and gives Pinocchio a better life. Pinocchio reluctantly allows himself to be carried away by Lorenzini only after Geppetto roughly disowns him claiming that he's not a real boy and thus cannot be his son.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Geppetto and Leona.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Volpe is this to Felinet, contrasting the original version and other adaptations where he is the brains of the animal duo.
  • Burn the Witch!: Geppetto fears that he'll be burned at the stake for creating a living puppet, but his friend Tino reassures him that they've stopped burning people... though he may get hanged instead.
  • Canon Foreigner: Leona, Geppetto's love interest, is not present in the original story or other adaptations.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Pinocchio's nose by lying enough, he's able to open the sea monster's throat wide enough for Geppetto to escape
  • Classic Villain: Lorenzini exists to tempt and manipulate Pinocchio.
  • Composite Character: Lorenzini is a combination of Mangiafuoco, the Coachman and the Terrible Dogfish.
    • To a lesser extent, Geppetto's full name includes "Antonio", which was the name of Master Cherry, the friend of Geppetto who found and gave him the enchanted wood stump in the book.
  • Con Man: Volpe and Felinet are this, though Felinet is the one who's doing all the conning.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Leona married Geppetto's brother, who has since passed away.
  • December–December Romance: Geppetto and Leona, who are both over 50.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: Lorenzini, who runs a puppet show and is a sociopath.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Lorenzini looks quite devilish, with his dark coat, gleaming eyes, and Van Dyke beard.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: For the mess in the bakery Pinocchio caused, the judge orders that he pay 'twenty-thousand coins to the bakers for the damages, and ten-thousand to the court for reasons not made clear.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Geppetto's quite stubborn.
  • Ear Ache: When Pinocchio lets the donkey children escape from their enclosure, a furious Lorenzini grabs him still by the donkey ears. In order to get away, Pinocchio grabs a running donkey by the tail and gets pulled strongly enough to break free, leaving Lorenzini holding his ears behind.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Pinocchio and Geppetto go through a lot before reuniting. The same goes for the donkeys before they regain their humanity.
  • Even Mooks Have Loved Ones: Volpe misses his dad.
  • Expy: Leona is the movies equivalent to The Fairy With Turquoise Hair both are mother figures to Pinocchio that are not afrade to call him out on his failures and both have a blue color motif.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Lorenzini... kinda. He's already a manipulative, money-obsessed, Jerkass from the start of the film, but there's really nothing evil about his intentions initially. He's just the manager of a luxurious puppet theater that could benefit from having a puppet without strings. He doesn't even try to kidnap Pinocchio or threaten Geppetto... he makes a deal that he'll pay a fine Geppetto has on the condition that he hands Pinocchio over to him, and although he sees Pinocchio only as a pawn in his plans, he treats him fairly well, even giving him a small sum of money for a good job. Pinocchio only turns against him when a scene in his puppet show involved some of Geppetto's other (non-sentient) puppets being burned by a sea creature. However, when his puppet theater is burned to crisp, Lorenzini decides to exact revenge on Pinocchio and sets up an Amusement Park of Doom.
  • Fashionable Evil: All the villains are dressed in expensive clothes.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: Lorenzini has a penchant for eating chili peppers so hot they make his breath warp light like an open flame, and during his puppet show he chomps on a bunch at once in order to spit huge flames out of a megaphone.
  • Fish out of Water: Pinocchio starts off being that in this adaptation, since he's experiencing the world for the first time and thus is easily distracted, mindlessly copies words and actions of those around him and overall behaves awkwardly with people, unintentionally causing troubles with his naivety.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: When Pinocchio performed well on Lorenzini's puppet show, he receives four gold coins. The next day, while fleeing from the town after burning down the puppet theatre, Pinocchio runs into Volpe and Felinet, who trick him out of his money by convincing him that, in order to become a real boy, he must "plant" his coins and wait an hour so they grow on trees in order to "buy" the miracle the naive puppet needs to achieve his dream. While he is watching a clock waiting for the time to pass, the duo take his money from the hole.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • The boys who turn into donkeys. Unlike the original story and other adaptations, they all manage to return to normal by working hard and performing good deeds.
    • Lorenzini, Felinet and Volpe all succumb to this as well.
  • Foreshadowing: When Pinocchio is forced to perform in Lorenzini's puppet show, one of the antagonists is a sea monster. Also whenever we see Lorenzini, he is eating chili peppers. When swallowed by the sea monster, Pinocchio recognizes him as Lorenzini because the inside of the sea monster's stomach smells like chili peppers.
  • Furry Reminder: Volpe seems to be something of a human/fox hybrid (representing his character change from the Fox of the original story), as he has many human attributes but also behaves like a cat.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: A puppeteer singing like a Brawn Hilda shatters Lorenzini's glass of champagne.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Sometimes a few words in Italian come out of the characters, and some written things are called by their Italian equivalent (the school being "Scuola") but in other instances the writing is in English (such as the rules the kids have to 'break' at Terra Magica).
  • Groin Attack: Lorenzini also gets that when Donkey-Lampwick kicks him into the waters of his fountain causing his sea monster transformation.
  • Grows on Trees: Miracles don't do this, as Pinocchio learns the hard way.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Lorenzini. He buys Pinocchio, who burns his puppet theatre down; is kicked by a transformed Lampwick into his own cursed water which turns him into a sea monster and swallows both Pinocchio and Geppetto, who choke him from the inside.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Geppetto and Leona.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Pinocchio, who listens to two figures that Geppetto once accused of theft.
    • The judge who sentences Geppetto counts as well. All Lorenzini had to do was pay Geppetto's debt and the judge was charmed.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Unlike the original story, all the antagonists here are human. Including the sea monster that swallows Geppetto, which is a transformed Lorenzini.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Volpe is too incompetent without Felinet to be considered much of a threat.
  • Insufferable Genius:
    • Pepe, who always shows up to criticize Pinocchio's decisions in a smug manner.
    • One of the schoolboys is an absolute pedant, answering every question in such a way that would get a real kid ostracized.
  • Invisible Holes: Invoked with Pinocchio leaking the cursed water from the holes Lampwick previously shot through his body by accident.
  • Karmic Transformation: The magical fountain Lorenzini uses at Terra Magica causes this to whoever drinks its water. The children are encouraged to act naughty and reckless and for that they become literal jackasses when they get splashed at the roller coaster ride. Lorenzini, Volpo and Felinet also succumb to this and turn into animals they behave like the most.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Played with. Lampwick and the boys Pinocchio first meet treat him like dirt but warm up to him after he humiliates their teacher and burns Lorenzini's theatre down.
  • Little "No": Lorenzini gives a short "No!" when Pinocchio is going to rescue Geppetto's puppets, which begins a chain reaction that burns his theatre down.
  • Lost in Imitation: It takes several cues from the Disney adaptation. The Talking Cricket is Pinocchio's permanent sidekick rather than a minor character; the sea monster is a Monster Whale instead of a giant dog-fish; Pinocchio is the only living marionette and thus becomes the star attraction of a puppet theater, as opposed to just visiting a theater filled with other living puppets; and Pinocchio only suffers from a Partial Transformation instead of turning completely into a donkey.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Lampwick does not take kindly to his friend calling him "Lampshade" when they fight over their gun at Terra Magica.
  • Meaningful Name: Lorenzini gets his name from Carlo Collodi's real surname: Carlo Lorenzini.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Geppetto's full name in this adaptation is Luca Antonio Renaldo Geppetto Baldini and the Talking Cricket is named Pugnazio Elocuzio P. Elegante, which he shortens into "Pepe".
  • The Nicknamer: Lampwick is quick to call Pinocchio "Woody" when they meet each other in school. He hates it when he's the one getting nicknamed, though.
  • One-Winged Angel: After falling into the pool of cursed water, Lorenzini starts to slowly transform into a hideous creature. By the time Pinocchio shows up at sea, Lorenzini has fully transformed into a gigantic whale-like sea monster.
  • Partial Transformation: Thanks to Lampwick inadvertently shooting Pinocchio with holes in Terra Magica, the cursed water only gives the latter donkey ears. When Lorenzini learns about this, he's outraged.
  • Pet the Dog: Lorenzini of all people actually gives Pinocchio four gold coins because he earned them during his puppet show.
  • Police Are Useless: Justified, in that Pinocchio isn't as cautious as the low-lifes he meets up with.
  • Powder Gag: The last straw that has Pinocchio sent out of school is sneezing chalk dust all over the teacher's face.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Lorenzini's clothes are colored like this during his puppet show.
  • Riches to Rags: Volpe and Felinet, two rich conmen, are tricked into drinking from the cursed water that turned naughty boys into donkeys. The result is that they are turned into a fox and a cat respectively, and can no longer use the money they loved so much.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Lorenzini's Evil Gloating while overlooking Terra Magica:
    Lorenzini: Act like a jackass, if you have the nerve. Drink up the water, get what you deserve. Be wicked, be naughty, come drink from my fountain... then I will be rich, king of the mountain.
  • Satanic Archetype: Lorenzini's deeds include making deals that are wholly in his favour, tempting children into vice and condemning them to misery when they do.
  • Sea Monster: Lorenzini after swallowing the cursed water of his fountain.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Contrary to the original story, the naughty boys avoided a future where they became donkeys for the rest of their lives by returning to their homes and agreeing never to misbehave again, even one of them genuinely thanks Pinocchio for warning them. Even those who were turned into donkeys (including Lampwick) regained their humanity by doing some hard work and being good.
  • Stern Teacher: The boy's teacher essentially expels Pinocchio for his lies, despite him genuinely regretting them and wishing to stay and learn.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: The wood Pinocchio is made of became enchanted after Geppetto craved a heart with the initials of himself and Leona on the pine tree, and the heart is still visible on the puppet's chest. In a way, it makes this iteration of Pinocchio even more of a direct son to Geppetto, as he was brought to life through Geppetto's love for a woman who would later mother him.
  • Squashed Flat: A marionette that gets stepped on by the "Giant" during Lorenzini's puppet show gets up revealing to have become this, instead of being broken to pieces.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: Pinocchio's Single Tear which he sheds upon Geppetto reaffirming his fatherly love for him causes the transformation into a real boy.
  • Talking Animal: Pepe the cricket. Volpe and Felinet turn into a fox and a cat respectively at the end.
  • There Are No Rules: Lorenzini's henchman at Terra Magica tells to the new arrivals that the biggest rule is that, before distributing small maces to the children so that they can literally break various rules written on small chalkboards.
  • Those Two Guys: Volpe and Felinet.
  • Torso with a View: At Terra Magica, Lampwick and his friend fight over their gun during target practice. However, when the gun goes off and shoots the targets, it causes Pinocchio's torso to be filled with holes. Fortunately for Pinocchio, the cursed water leaks out of his torso and he doesn't fully transform into a donkey like Lampwick.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: One trailer spoils pretty much the entire film (including the climax, Pinocchio turning into a real boy and even his last line in the film's ending).
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Pinocchio assumes it after going through his partial Transformation Trauma.
    Pinocchio: I don't want to be a jackass, I don't want to be a jackass...
  • Urine Trouble: A dog marks the territory on Pinocchio's leg while he stands motionless in front of the monastery's clock waiting for his coins to grow into a tree.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Felinet puts the coin Pinocchio offered to the monastery between her breasts.
  • Water Is Blue: Literally, the water of Lorenzini's fountain isn't reflecting the color of the sky, it really has a blue tint. Given what it's capable of, it can be seen as a subtler take on the Mutagenic Goo.
  • Would Hurt a Child: At one point Lorenzini wanted to skin one of the donkeys for a pair of boots... remember what the donkeys used to be?
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Felinet says "You can't be serious." when Volpe doesn't figure out right away that the boy who's being chased by a woodpecker is Pinocchio.