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Adventures of Pinocchio, The (1996, Martin Landau, Jonathan Taylor Thomas)



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles director Steve Barron added another string to his bow with this lively family movie, a live-action adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s classic children’s novel. Although most people know the story from the successful 1940 Disney version (complete with songs and Jiminy Cricket), The Adventures of Pinocchio is more faithful to the original storyline. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop provided the animatronic know-how to transform the puppet Pinocchio into a living creature, but it’s the moving and believable performance of Martin Landau that really stands out in this sweet and charming movie.

Landau stars as Gepetto, a love-lorn puppetmaker who never declared his love for his sweetheart Leona (Geneviève Bujold) and had to watch her marry his brother. Years later, with his brother long since dead, Gepetto inadvertently finds a log upon which he’d once carved his and Leona’s initials. He takes it home and makes a marionette from it. When it comes magically to life, he calls it Pinocchio (the voice of Home Improvements star Jonathan Taylor Thomas).

The animated puppet is soon attracting the attention of evil showman Lorenzini (Udo Kier), who’s tipped off by the fox-like Volpe (Rob Schneider) and cat-like Felinet (Bebe Neuwirth). Lorenzini tries to buy Pinocchio, but Gepetto refuses to sell his ‘child’. With the showman – who owns the Terra Magica amusement park where all manner of strange things go on – determined to possess the puppet, things start to get even more out of hand when Pinocchio discovers that, every time he tells a lie, his nose starts to grow. Although it seems like a curse, Pinocchio’s nose for trouble will eventually prove to be his, and Gepetto’s, salvation.

production details
USA | 90 minutes | 1996

Director: Steve Barron
Writers: Sherry Mills, Steve Barron, Tom Benedek, Barry Berman (based on the novel by Carlo Collodi)

Martin Landau as Geppetto
Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Pinocchio
Geneviève Bujold as Leona
Udo Kier as Lorenzini
Bebe Neuwirth as Felinet
Rob Schneider as Volpe
Corey Carrier as Lampwick
David Doyle as Pepe (voice)
Dawn French as Baker’s Wife