Penelope (PG)

Penelope is a young woman who was born with a family curse that deformed her nose into that of a pig’s snout. The only way to break the curse is for her to be loved by one of her “own kind”, i.e. a blue-blood. Men run from the sight of her and it appears the curse will never be lifted, as she’s so ugly no one can get to know her. Of course there’s a young man (James McAvoy) whose greed lifts to reveal a true heart. It’s a predictable tale of personal acceptance, with a well-meaning but damaging screech of a mother (Catherine O’Hara) and an indulgent, loving, guilt-ridden father (Robert E. Grant). All turns out well in the end, and I daren’t give it away here. You’ll have to see for yourself.

It’s been a long time since I was 13, but that’s where this fairy tale movie took me. (Not to mention that I took my newly-13-year-old young girlfriend with me.) There are no big bad scary parts nor any evil incarnate. You really need to be a teenager to appreciate it for its message, which is to love yourself no matter what anyone else says. The PG rating must come from the two innuendos I counted that came from the always delightful Reese Witherspoon, which blew right over the top of my young friend’s head. Ms. Witherspoon’s performance as a zany, outgoing straight shooter made the movie much more fun for me and shook up the plodding blandness in which the movie was threatening to bog down. Christina Ricci (Penelope) is entirely too pretty, even with a snout nose, for the audience to believe that young men would run in fear at the first sight of her. James McAvoy is pleasant and easy to watch (from our 13-year-old point of view), and the rest of the cast are familiar faces with exaggerated acting.

It wasn’t difficult to enjoy this movie, as there really isn’t anything offensive or objectionable in either the storyline or the characters. It’s a fun movie to take a young friend to, and we had a good time crushing on McAvoy. However, I recommend that you DO take an adolescent to it, or be one yourself, or the overall blandness will bore you silly.