By Beth Pinsker
Updated May 21, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Now that Benigni has jumped into the world’s ocean of love thanks to the three Academy Awards for Life Is Beautiful, it’s about time Americans got a chance to explore his oeuvre of Italian farce to see just what’s behind that smirking face and manic slapstick. What we find out watching Benigni in Seeking Asylum as a kindergarten teacher who falls hard for any kid, except his own that’s on the way, is that Benigni’s roots are less Woody Allen and more Andy Kaufman. Acting in Marco Ferreri’s film, he has a subtle sense of experimental, conceptual comedy verging on the mean that has evolved over 20 years into the boisterous comic style that’s winning awards today. C+