PENELOPE

PG, 104 m., 2006

Director: Mark Palansky
Writer: Leslie Caveny (written by)
Stars: Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon

Penelope is a modern-day fairy-tale which sat on the shelf for two years (made in 2006, released in early 2008 – and only somewhat at this point). Hard to figure what the concerns were. It’s a little uneven, and not too funny, but nice enough.

Penelope is a rich blue-blood born into a family curse resulting in having the nose (and, I think, ears) of a pig. It will (supposedly) take a society blue blood to lift said curse by falling for her, so her mother (Catherine O’Hara in overdrive mode) conspires to get her hitched to the first guy who can look at her without running out of the room, jumping out a window, etc. (surprisingly, it takes several potential sudors for this to occur) and through various contrivances, Penelope soon discovers Max (James McAvoy, filmed prior to Atonement though released after the ultra-serious World War II British romance), a hard-gambling swindler who sees her for who she truly is from the get-go and regrets how he treats her from the start.

OK, so this isn’t incredibly deep stuff and it’s silly and all, but Christina Ricci is cute in the title role, I liked a throw-away extended cameo (credited) from producer Reese Witherspoon as a friend in the big city that Penelope meets, and I liked the somewhat muddled message that one should accept who they are and come to love themselves before they can love anyone else (though the transmission of the message is a bit garbled under some Shrek-like twists and turns in the final third). Still, a worthy effort – maybe a rental, if not worthy of a trip to the multiplex.

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