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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Film Review: Fairy tale offers a lesson

Penelope is a modern-day fairy tale about a girl with a problem. And not a little problem – she has the nose of a pig.

Penelope (Christina Ricci) is the first daughter born to the Wilherns and has inherited the family curse. The curse manifests itself in a pig nose, and ears, much to the horror of her family, and especially that of her mother (Catherine O’Hara). To protect Penelope, her mother fakes Penelope’s death and keeps her in the house, safe from the outside world.

But like every other fairy tale, the only way to break the curse is to find a fellow "blue blood" to love her as she is. And so the quest begins: find Penelope a man who is not afraid to look at her and is willing to marry her to break the curse.

The Wilherns go through several blue bloods, and several windows, until they finally seem to find one that isn’t too afraid of Penelope, a boy named Max (James McAvoy). But Max isn’t what he pretends to be and poor Penelope is finally fed up. She runs away and begins experiencing life outside the house for the first time.

Hiding under her green and purple scarf, Penelope makes a few friends, including a vespa-riding delivery girl (Reese Witherspoon). She reveals her deformity to the world, and even gets engaged – to the wrong "prince," of course.

At the end of the film, Penelope is finally freed from the curse, though not in the typical manner. It’s a nice twist on the old fairy-tale theme, but it’s still not totally unexpected by the audience.

A typical chick flick, Penelope is a light-hearted and funny film, suitable for all ages. O’Hara, of Beetlejuice and Home Alone fame, pulls off the slightly crazed mother humorously, and Ricci is adorable as the sweet, intelligent and slightly disfigured heroine.

Even the "villain," played by Simon Woods, is just as good looking as McAvoy’s character, though not quite as nice – or bright.

Penelope may not be the best movie for critics and serious moviegoers, or men for that matter, for many reasons. The plot is flimsy, the jokes are silly, and events, such as falling in love, happen way too fast to convey any sense of reality.

But Penelope is not meant to be analyzed, nor is it meant to be interpreted as a serious film. It is a modern take on the fairy tale with a simple message: love yourself for who you are and don’t be ashamed. It is a message that all can listen to, but that is especially pertinent to young women who are constantly bombarded by media portrayals of the "perfect" female.

By placing the message within this kind of film, the producers have ensured that it will get across to the right people and will, one hopes, make an impression on the importance of accepting yourself.

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