Directed By: Mark Palansky
Release Date: February 29, 2008
Run Time: 104 minutes
Penelope is a lovely modern-day fairy tale about a young girl born under a rather inconvenient curse. Thanks to some not-very-nice antics by a distant relative, a witch cursed the Wilhern family so that their next born girl-child would be born with the face of a pig. Five generations after that fateful day, Penelope (Christina Ricci) became that "lucky" girl.
The only way to break the curse is for her to find love with "one of her own kind", which her parents take as meaning that she must marry a "blue blood" kind of man. This proves to be a rather daunting task for a girl with the face of a pig. Despite her family's extraordinary wealth and the fact that Penelope is an incredibly charming young woman (and rather adorable, too, despite her little pig nose and ears), whenever potential suitors finally lay eyes on her, they run screaming from the mansion, hurting Penelope's young heart.
She finally meets a man (James McAvoy) that she thinks might be the one. He doesn't run screaming and they seem to have a real connection going on. But when it looks as if things won't work out with him either, Penelope finally reaches her limit. She decides to stop hiding in the family mansion waiting for love to find her. She ventures out into the world for the first time, in search of a real life, pig face and all.
I must say that I might never have watched this movie on my own. It simply fell completely under my radar. But my daughter recommended it and we watched it together. Within moments, I was quite charmed.
Although the movie was directed by Mark Palansky, it has a very strong Tim Burton kind of vibe, in looks and feel. Christina Ricci is wonderfully charming in the lead role, and I found her to be quite lovely even under the influence of the curse. Catherine O'Hara is deliciously annoying in the role of her mother, and although her part is rather small, Reese Witherspoon is quite likable as the first friend Penelope makes when she finally ventures beyond her family's estate.
Most of all, I love the fact that I thought I had the movie all figured out, but then it surprised me in a way that made it a whole lot better than I thought it would be. All in all, it was a fun, charming, and touching fantasy romp, perfect for those times when you just want a movie to make you feel good.
Fun trivia: Catherine O'Hara played an equally annoying mom to Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice and Winona Ryder was Christina Ricci's older sister in Mermaids, with Cher.
(I was not paid to endorse this movie in any way. I watched it streaming on Netflix, a service I pay for. My opinions and thoughts about it are my own.)