“PENELOPE” (Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O’Hara, Reese Witherspoon & Peter Dinklage)
This is one of those films I find it hard to say anything bad about & yet wouldn’t necessarily recommend all that highly. It is a cute little fairy-tale with only one distracting acting performance (O’Hara) otherwise, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this movie – it isn’t as good as “Enchanted”; & perhaps that may be the sole reason it didn’t ‘bowl me over’ – it just isn’t as good as “Enchanted”.
A witch puts a curse on the Weathershead family that every female offspring shall be born with a ‘defect’. For generations the family bears male children & when the first female finally comes, she isn’t cursed because her mother cheated on her husband, so the child wasn’t a true Weathershead. Catherine O’Hara is the lucky mother who gives birth to ‘Penelope’(Ricci) who emerges from the womb with a pig’s snout & big floppy pig-like ears. The ears are easily covered by hair, but the snout is another problem. Rhinoplasty is made impossible by the curse. Catherine & her husband decide to fake Penelope’s death & have her ‘body’ cremated. Penelope is then raised secretly in the Weathershead’s attic – never allowed outdoors. When she reaches marrying age, suitors are invited to meet Penelope, as the curse can only be lifted by a marriage to a ‘blue blooded’ Englishman. They all leap thru a 2nd story window in horror at the sight of Christina Ricci with a pig’s nose. . . I’m sorry, but I think Christina has always been under-rated as a ‘looker’ – I actually found the snout somewhat endearing; I not only would not have run away from her, I would have tried to make out with her, if that’s what she wanted. Watching dweeb after dweeb screaming in fright after seeing a girl with Christina’s eyes & figure was more than a little ‘over the top’.
Only Dak McCrimmon (McAvoy) remained from the latest batch of suitors since he was lying on the floor behind the couch when Penelope made her startling entrance. They begin conversing thru a 2-way mirror – all goes well until Dak is startled when he finally sees the ‘pig-nosed’ girl. Fed up, Penelope escapes her parent’s mansion.
Pretending to be recovering from a botched nose job, she befriends Cassie (Weatherspoon) When she is finally revealed, Penelope has developed enough social skills to charm the hordes of press & photographers – she becomes a media darling.
A marriage is ‘arranged’ to one of her former suitors – to save face for his family.
Will this lift the curse? If so, will Penelope be happy with a normal nose that makes her less of a celebrity? & what about Dak, who realizes he ‘blew’ his one chance at love?
Well, it IS a fairy-tale so you know a happy ending is coming, but perhaps not the one you expected.
My only complaint is minor, but in a story set in England, the five main characters all use ‘American’ accents (Even James McAvoy!) while all of the extras speak proper King’s English. But hey, in fairy-tale land, who’s to say that Americans can’t dominate a story set in the U.K.?
Peter Dinklage once again turns in a picture perfect performance as a reporter obsessed with revealing the truth about the existence of the ‘pig girl’. Even when he gets the last scene in the movie (without saying a word) he portrays what his character’s thoughts are so expertly that you don’t have to guess at what he’s thinking as he rows his little boat off the screen. A nice little film, see it when you have a chance – you won’t feel as though you’ve wasted any precious time out of your life for having viewed it.