Penelope Mark Palansky

Penelope Mark Palansky
Christina Ricci stars as the adorable but tragically pig-nosed heroine in this cotton candy-ish fairy tale. There’s not a whole lot to it, but what the heck — it’s just so fluffy and sweet!

Penelope is cursed with the worst fate that can befall a young lady: she’s born with a pig’s snout and some floppy ears that remain hidden under shiny locks of brown hair for most of the film. In order to break the ancient spell, she must find her true love, a task that her shrill and domineering mother (Catherine O’Hara) takes on with great fervour. Penelope entertains suitors handpicked by mum from behind a one-sided mirror, all of whom ultimately run off when they see her unfortunate face.

Enter Lemon, the scheming, one-eyed reporter (Peter Dinklage, looking pretty sexy with an eye patch), who’s been relentlessly searching for a photo of Penelope her whole life. His elaborate plot to capture her on film introduces her to the one man who might fall in love with her in spite of her "shortcomings,” a charming, young down-and-out gambler (James McAvoy).

This simple romantic plot is marred by a few unnecessary plot twists and storylines that don’t go anywhere but it’s peppered with several unexpected zingers and genuinely funny performances. Richard E. Grant is at his restrained-yet-frenzied best as Penelope’s beleaguered father, and Reese Witherspoon (who produced the film) is charming as her first real friend.

This film should be popular with pre-teen girls and rightly so. The sets and costumes look oh so pretty (I spent half the film whispering to my seatmate about Penelope’s gorgeous pumps), the "like yourself for who you are” message is enduringly positive and the fairytale flavour keeps everything light and romantic without ever getting too maudlin or icky. (Seville)