As a result of a family curse, Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci) is born with a pig's snout to wealthy socialites (Richard E. Grant and Catherine O'Hara). In a bid to break the curse, her family offers a huge dowry and arranges for a procession of upper-class suitors to meet her, but they are all repulsed by her features. Lemon (Peter Dinklage), a reporter with a grudge, bribes Max (James McAvoy) to pose as a suitor, hoping he will be able to snap a photograph of the reclusive Penelope, but Max refuses to help when he is attracted to her. Fed up, Penelope runs away from home and finally discovers what it means to be loved.
Review by Louise Keller:
Visually stylish, what might have been a cute fantasy becomes tedious due to its banal script and a relentless overload of pig-jokes. There's no denying the well-meaning message of self-acceptance, but screenwriter Leslie Caveny's script is played for laughs and much of the tale is over-directed by first time director Mark Palansky. The only characters with integrity are Christina Ricci's snout-nosed Penelope and Peter Dinklage's one-eyed reporter Lemon, who both elicit our sympathies for different reasons.
The storyline is as thin as crispy bacon, and the stream of blue-blood suitors that crash through the first floor windows after seeing the unfortunate Penelope, becomes monotonous. I chuckled a few times at Catherine O'Hara's overly hysterical mother, but in the end, she becomes irritating, as does Simon Woods' wimpy Edward Vanderman. James McAvoy's down-and-out upper class Max is unbelievable as he goes from money grubbing spy who thinks nothing about stealing first edition books to a love-sick puppy with a moral conscience. The scene in which Max asks Penelope to guess what musical instrument he plays is not only poorly conceived, but embarrassing, as he plucks the strings of a double bass, thrashes the drums, runs out of puff on the sax and plays dis-chords on the piano.
There is zero chemistry between the two and it seems ludicrous that Max does not recognise Penelope when she wears a pig-snout mask at a fancy dress party. Reece Witherspoon, who is credited as a producer, brightens the screen in a small role as a bike-riding free spirit who befriends Penelope, but there is no rhyme or reason for her character. It amounts to very little beyond hogwash.
DVD special feature includes The Making of a Modern Day Fairy Tale.
Published September 4, 2008
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PENELOPE: DVD (M)
CAST: Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage, Richard E. Grant, Simon Woods, Ronni Ancona
PRODUCER: Dylan Russell, Jennifer Simpson, Scott Steindorff, Reese Witherspoon
DIRECTOR: Mark Palansky
SCRIPT: Leslie Caveny
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michel Amathieu
EDITOR: Jon Gregory, Ian Seymour
MUSIC: Joby Talbot
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Amanda McArthur
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Magna Pacific
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Not released
SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of feature: The Making of a Modern Day Fairy Tale.
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Magna Pacific
DVD RELEASE: September 3, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.