“Penelope” stars Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O’Hara, Richard E. Grant, and Reese Witherspoon. “Penelope” marks director Mark Palansky’s first full length feature film debut, which proves to be a pretty decent movie.
Penelope (Christina Ricci) is a young girl who was born with the nose of a pig because of a curse place upon her family by a witch. The catch is the curse isn’t permanent. It can be broken by finding true love and liking herself for who she is. Her mother (Catherine O’Hara) faked the death of Penelope to protect her from the public, leading to Penelope’s escape from home into the real world.
A few elements are exaggerated in the film. These include the dates jumping out nearby windows after seeing “the nose” and also the fact that she is unbearable to look at. Aside from her nose, Christina Ricci is absolutely adorable. These flaws can be forgiven for the fact that this is a fairytale story. “Penelope” is bombarded by overacting from Catherine O’Hara. On the other hand, Christina Ricci is so appealing here that you look right past that distinct pig snout and see a charming performance. There is impressive dialog that is poetically narrated by Christina Ricci in the beginning. The rest of the film’s dialog is trite, but not abrasive.
Reese Witherspoon gives a short, but memorable, performance as the one who shows Penelope around the “outside world”. As vivid predictions lapsed through my head, I was completely surprised that the ending wasn’t as predictable as I thought. Sure the part about her living happily ever after was foreshadowed, but there are a couple of clever twists at the end. It’s quite refreshing.
There is a cliched subplot containing two characters who plan to get a snapshot of the nose for public appeal, but I enjoyed it for the most part. “Penelope” puts a small twist on the average fairytale. Nothing explosive (it’s just a nose), but cute enough to acknowledge. The direction isn’t top-notch, but acceptable considering this is Mark Palansky’s first full length feature film. I have to say that it was worth my time. It wasn’t an effort, but a pleasure watching “Penelope”.