The casualty: actor/writer/director Robert Benigni

Straight out of Italy, lively filmmaker-actor Roberto Benigni blindsided Hollywood and American audiences in 1997 with Life is Beautiful, the funny and heart-wrenching Nazi concentration camp tearjerker that dominated the Oscars by winning three awards, including Best Actor (for Benigni) and Best Foreign Language Film. Afterwards, insiders waited patiently for five years to see if Benigni could repeat the international acclaim, and when he finally released his live-action Pinocchio adaptation in 2002, they received their answer. And it wasn't a good one.

Withheld from any press screenings by Miramax before its uneventful Christmas '02 release, Pinocchio reeked of catastrophe before confirming its direness to those unfortunate enough to endure Benigni's ill-advised efforts. Basically, Pinocchio is about a middle-aged guy prancing around in children's pajamas for nearly two hours, pretending to be a puppet while everyone else around him fumbles poorly written jokes and unsuccessfully tries to save what little face they can. Check out the film's Rotten Tomatoes page at some point—Pinocchio stands at a 0% approval rating, the same percentage as Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star.

Aside from a minor role in Woody Allen's recent disappointment To Rome with Love, Benigni's career has yet to fully revive post-Pinocchio. Some stories should never be anything but animated.