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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Penelope

Christina Ricci as Penelope in Mark Palansky’s directorial debut.  Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment
Christina Ricci as Penelope in Mark Palansky’s directorial debut. Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment

By Sara Pintilie/entertainment editor

Penelope (3.5 stars)

Christina Ricci as Penelope in Mark Palansky’s directorial debut.  Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment
Christina Ricci as Penelope in Mark Palansky’s directorial debut. Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment

Penelope is a half-baked attempt at a modern-day fairy tale.

Sure, the film has its sweet moments, but it can’t seem to find the right stride.

First-time director Mark Palansky tries to emulate Tim Burton and Rob Reiner, but his finished product is a hodgepodge, albeit entertaining, of whimsy.

There is a curse afoot on the Wilhern family. The first Wilhern daughter, Penelope, is to be born with the face of a pig.

She is, and the only thing to get rid of the curse is if “one of her kind” accepts her as his own.

Her overbearing mother, Jessica (Catherine O’Hara), locks her away and declares to find Penelope a blue blood if it’s the last thing she does.

Penelope isn’t thrilled. She is sick of suitors running away at the sight of her face.

But the audience doesn’t really see the hideousness of Penelope. Yeah she has a snout, but she is Miss Piggy cute—nothing to jump out of a second story window to escape from.

Max (James McAvoy) has his own unsightly flaw—a massive gambling addiction. He has gambled away his money and basically lives in a smoky gambling hall.

So he takes up an offer from tabloid reporter, Lemon (Peter Dinklage), to get himself into the Wilhern manor and take a picture of the elusive Penelope.

But of course, like most fairy tales, Max develops feelings for Penelope. She reveals herself to him, but alas, he flinches just enough for Penelope’s heart to snap in two.

Ricci and James McAvoy as Max in Penelope.  Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment
Ricci and James McAvoy as Max in Penelope. Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment

Penelope decides enough is enough and runs away to experience life outside the mansion.

Hijinks ensue and Reese Witherspoon’s spunky Annie shows Penelope what it is like to have friends.

The film looks whimsical and inviting—even the 24-hour gambling joint looks kosher.

The acting from the cast is fresh and fun. Ricci is sweet. McAvoy is charming. And O’Hara is O’Hara.

O’Hara’s absurd and obnoxious motherhood is a reminder of her Beetlejuice days—which is a good thing.

But as endearing as the film sounds, it has many problems in its story.

Events are resolved haphazardly, in a very sit-comish way, and the ending is underwhelming.

Penelope is a cute attempt at a modern fairy tale, but pitfalls in the plot keep the film from reaching its full potential.

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