The Carlo Collodi classic about the live puppet whose selfish immaturity brings him endless grief comes again to the screen, written and directed by Roberto (Life Is Beautiful
) Benigni. With Danilo Donati’s witty designs and Dante Spinotti’s luscious cinematography, this could have made a decent children’s movie—if only Benigni hadn’t insisted on casting himself in the title role. Small children, the likeliest audience for this fantasy, are liable to be confused by the sight of a 50-year-old man trying to pass himself off as a little wooden boy. And older kids and adults will be put off by Benigni’s plodding, ham-handed whimsy and obnoxious capering as well as the atrocious English dubbing (voices include those of Breckin Meyer, Glenn Close and John Cleese). Better stick with the Disney animated version.