by December Lambeth on February 29, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Penelope
  • IMDB: link


Here is a classic yet modern fairy tale of life and true love. Who hasn’t experienced a touch of Penelope from time to time? Who hasn’t felt loved or appreciated or wanted by another or society because of one flaw or another? Everybody has felt dejected in one format or another and Penelope gives us a lighthearted reach into hope; a lighthearted reach with James McAvoy being the end result and no longer feeling like an outcast. True, I may have read just a little more into a simple fairy tale than what was actually there. Then again, isn’t that what going to the moves is all about?

Here we have Penelope (Christina Ricci) and blue-blooded aristocrat that is the first-born female who receives a gypsies curse. Her family kind of pissed off a gypsy by double crossing her daughter and a curse was put upon the entire family tree, the first girl to be born would have the face of a pig, which will not release that child until she is loved unconditionally by one of her own. Luck would have it that after generations of Wilhern’s born Penelope is the first girl and therefore the cursed.

Her mother, Jessica Wilhern (Catherine O’Hara), goes into extravagant lengths to match Penelope with a blue blood, but not even hiding her in a room with a two-way mirror can keep Penelope from showing her true self. Her father, Franklin Wilhern (Richard E. Grant), takes the blame of the curse, but doesn’t know what to do but go along with his eccentric wife.

Along comes Lemon (Peter Dinklage), a reporter who had lost an appendage while sneaking in on the whole pig face girl buzz, he reprises the story after one of Penelope’s aristocratic suitors ran for the door with a man eating pig faced monster story. The two get in cahoots with hunting down Penelope and exposing her face to the world.

After hiring a no account gambler, Max (James McAvoy), to get the inside scoop and pretend to be one of Penelope’s suitors Lemon decided that maybe he wasn’t all cut out for such a job and to let issues lie where they are, but Edward Vanderman Jr. (Simon Woods), the ass that he is, pursues.

Max doesn’t run, but quite the opposite, he finds himself fascinated and inspired by Penelope. However, Penelope does run and tries to have a life of her own. She wants a beer on tap and to experience the outdoors, parks, river, people and friends. All her young life she has lived in her family home, with a beautifully decorated room, but no connection to the outside world. She runs into Annie (Reese Witherspoon), a free willed life of the party gal, who shows Penelope what living a little bit of life is all about.

Edward is forced to ask Penelope for her hand, but when the bride meets the groom in the end is expected, but still a wonderfully perky happy ending.

Listen, good or bad, I’m always willing to get my James McAvoy on, but this one over the past three I’ve seen, is my favorite. An even bigger pleasant surprise is seeing Reese Witherspoon’s name, not only on the list of actors, but also on the list of producers. However nice that is, there are quite a few other names on that producer list as well. I think it’s important to note that this film is one of the better Christina Ricci adventures since The Adams Family.

Penelope is an easy watch and short so is not to interrupt the flow of your day, just adds a bonus or highlight. Penelope is very much the quintessential chic flick, but that isn’t always a bad thing; it’s time to hit the theaters with the girls, young or old go shopping, hit the peddy and indulge a bit.


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