I've never really liked the Pinocchio story. I mean, what's to like? An obnoxious, spoiled little puppet runs around getting into trouble while being stalked by an equally annoying, self-righteous cricket. There's an enabling old man who might as well be carrying a cross on his back as he searches the world for his runaway "son" and an episodic storyline as Pinocchio jumps endlessly from fying pan to fire and back again. The only thing that I really like about the story is that the Blue Fairy is invariably hot.
I keep forgetting about that though. I hear "Pinocchio" and I flash back to childhood with "Give a Little Whistle" and "I've Got No Strings" bouncing around in my head. So, I don't know what I should've been expecting from Benigni's version, but what I got was an absolutely gorgeous take on a story that I can't stand. Benigni heightens Pinocchio's obnoxiousness with a manic performance, but to his credit, he also perfectly captures the puppet's gullible innocence. The film is undeniably beautiful, from the sweeping, Italian landscapes to the starlit, quaint village streets as the Fairy's mouse-drawn carriage glides through them. It really is a magical experience.
I just wish that the story was less painful.