Fairy tales are wide spread, with witches and curses they have, they are all too familiar with their poor damsel in need of rescue by the Charming Prince. The same can be said for poor Penelope, played by the essence of beauty and intelligence that is Christina Ricci. Famed for her roles as Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family movies, then "Kat" Harvey in Casper and during an Ice Strom she was Wendy Hood, hey, she's even dated a lesbian Monster and been chained up in Black Snake Moan. This, too, is the second in a row movie that consists of her taking a curse, the previous being John Carpenter's light horror werewolf flick Cursed (2005). You name it she has done it, and with perfection. Now all grown up she is playing the titular role of her 2006 movie Penelope.
Filmed in London, and with a high level of English actors too, and cast as an American fairy tale, this is the unlucky story of a witches curse on the first-born daughter of the Blue Blood (aristocrat) family, the Wilhern's. The only way to break said curse is to find her Charming Prince who shall love her for all her worth, pig nose and all. Yep, her curse is to be born with the nose and ears of a pig, poor girl. Kept away from others for all her childhood and youth by her grieving parents, played with relish by Richard E. Grant and the lovely Catherine O'Hara adding a touch of very hyper stressed and neurotic motherly love. Who could ask for more? Well, more is what we get here, more fun, more sad reflection and more diversity from the standard tale of woe. With its witty players from said Grant and O'Hara, we also get the very talented James McAvoy and the nemesis that is Lemon, the evil News Reporter, Peter Dinklage, hot on her tail for revenge. Having done "Lassie" (2005), "Death at a Funeral" (2007) and in the pipeline "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian". Excellent actor.
Funny in parts, and poignant in others, not an epic but not a waste of time either. A story of self believe and how one can learn to love oneself and then be loved in return, in any way, shape or form. Simple I know, but in this case, it works, with all the surrounding American accents sometimes rubbing the wrong way, we can easily dismiss the poor adaptations.
This ugly duckling fable will warm to your hearts and tingle you with delight, with a charming narrative and distinctive feel good factor, and if Disney had gotten their hands on the project, it just might have come across as over sappy, over benevolent and over too soon. And it's a good job they didn't, wasn't it?