Penelope (2008)

For whatever reason, I'm always keeping tabs on movies/tv shows/books that I will recommend future daughters/nieces/little girl BFFs. I'm keeping an eye for my fellow sisters, I guess. Anyway, I perused the young adult section of the library today and remembered that there are slim pickin's for anyone looking for something not obsessing about image or boys or wallowing in self pity (take a look at the series described as "Desperate Housewives for teens." Gag). Anyway, I'll just take whatever dreck future little girl in my life is watching/reading and burn it, and then make her watch Penelope.

Penelope is fairytale of sorts about a girl cursed with a pig nose thanks to an old family curse. Forced into hiding by an oppressive media, she meets possible suitors (fellow bluebloods) that can break her curse through a two-way mirror. Unfortunately, once she shows her face, men tend to run out of the second story window. One of her especially repulsed suitors (Cranford's Simon Woods) manages to leave before signing a gag agreement and tries to tell the media about the pig-monster that he saw. His only sympathy comes from a reporter (Peter Dinklage) who lost his eye in pursuit of this story years before. They hire Max (James McAvoy), a down on his luck gambling blue-blood with shaggy hair, to help break the story with pictures. Max becomes one of the suitors and while he's waiting to see Penelope's face, develops a friendship with her. But of course he's outed as helping reporters, and cast out of the house despite his affection for her.

So Penelope decides that she's had enough of being rejected and watching guys run out of her house and decides to go out to the real world with a scarf around her face and her mom's credit card. She soon meets leather wearing delivery girl Annie (Reese Witherspoon) who quickly befriends her, despite the scarf. Penelope learns to be on her own without her parents, and eventually takes the scarf off and learns to like herself--even with her nose.

Some things I like most about Penelope:

1. Penelope learns to love herself and become her own person first and foremost. The romance isn't front and center of the movie. For example, the reveal that Max is working for reporters isn't the biggest drama in the movie and happens fairly early on in the movie. If anything, the romance is just icing on the cake. Delicious, delicious icing on the cake.

A cute game of chess across the window where Max tries to convince Penelope to go out of the house with him.

2. Reese Witherspoon as Penelope's real world friend is adorable. I haven't seen Witherspoon in anything recently that I've enjoyed, so it was refreshing to see her play a low-key supporting role. And I enjoyed that the friendship seems genuine and sweet, like girl friendships should be.

Manic pixie dream girl?

3. It's stylized without being too twee. The set design and costuming are quirky, but not bizarre or wholly unrealistic. And the characters are a little stereotypical, but are refreshingly subdued. Even Catherine O'Hara's overbearing mother role keeps from getting too shrill.

Even the payphone is a little offbeat.

4. Christina Ricci is now officially my actress of choice for interesting girl-friendly movies. I may have been mildly obsessed with Casper, Golddiggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain, and That Darn Cat at certain times in my life. Penelope may or may not join that list now.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE PENELOPE!!! AND I love that coat she wears! I want one!!! I really need to learn how to sew...