The core lesson of the classic tale is embedded in the movie, with a couple of twists here and there. For one, Penelope was a recipient of a curse given generations ago. Due to the insensitivity of the rich, the town witch has cursed the family in which when a girl was born, she would have a face of a pig. In order to break the spell, someone from their own kind (blue blood, rich people) must love Penelope for who she is. Because of the curse, Penelope's family (but mostly her mother) hid her in the world, and they've been trying to lift the curse by setting her up, only to have them leave in terror after seeing her face. When they thought that they might have found their answer in Max Campion, they didn't know that he was working for Lemon, a reporter that the family had a bad run-in years ago. A lot more happens in the movie, but it picks up when Penelope decides to take her situation into her own hands.
There are many factors that make this fantasy movie work, with Christina Ricci being the primary reason. She was charming as the titular character. From the moment we meet her, we already know she's quite the character. She's smart, well-read, and know how people react when they see her. Still, it never really stopped her from doing what she wanted. Catherine O'Hara was literally stealing the scene whenever she's onscreen. Her frantic turn as the mother was hilarious, and even Richard E. Grant had his comic chances.
If you can look past the flaws, the movie is a delight to watch. Ricci's charming performance elevates this retelling, making it enjoyable to watch. She had good chemistry with James McAvoy (whom the writer tried to put some back story to his character, but it was rather misplaced). The lesson the classic tale teaches us is still there, despite being muddled by plot holes and story progression that just appears when it's convenient.
Cast: Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon
Director: Mark Palansky