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Fairy Tale Blogathon: Penelope

To celebrate fairy tales, Fitzi Kramer of Movies Silently is hosting the Fairy Tale Blogathon which will run from November 9 to 11 this year. For my entry, I decided to review Penelope, a modern retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast. It stars Christina Ricci, and this movie also marks the day the name "James McAvoy" landed on my radar, and I have been tuning in his work since.

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. 

However, its flaws are very evident and have made their mark on the movie. My primary irk was the way the script was worded. I couldn't understand its language identity. It seems like it's set in Britain, and most of the characters have accents, except for the main family. Those from Britain speak like they're from Britain, and the family speaks like they're in America. The script was worded in such a way that the writer has tried to merge two similar dialects in one movie but if you're accustomed to watching movies from both countries, you will detect a difference in speech. Besides the way it was written, there were also evident plot holes stemming out as the story progressed. Information and characters just appear out of nowhere when a scene justifies for it, but it fails to follow through with the succeeding scenes. There are really parts of the movie where you might question the existence of a scene or a character; it was that of a mess. A good point of the script however, is how empowering it is. For a character that was initially reliant on a fellow blue-blood to break the curse, Penelope has managed to stand on her own and live her life the way she wanted it to be. Besides that, the direction was good (despite the screenplay the director has to work with), and there really were scenes that just use the fantasy effect at the right moment. 

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. 



Final Word: If you're in for a light movie, this might be good for you!

Cast: Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon
Director: Mark Palansky
Year: 2006

Comments

  1. I liked Penelope for what it was, a lighthearted modernized fairy tale. You could do worse when looking for a pleasant time passer. Nice review.

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    1. Thank you! I always found this movie to be charming despite its flaws.

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  2. Thanks so much for joining in! I agree, the accent issues made problems for the movie when they could have been solved by a simple word or two in the script. Christina Ricci really sold it, though. Great review!

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    1. Thank you for hosting the blogathon! It did feel like it was two different worlds just merged into one because of the script.

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  3. I enjoyed the movie and I'm happy to learn that my wife and I were not the only ones bugged by the way the characters spoke. Christina Ricci is a good actress.. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

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    1. Hi! Changing the words from the script to have consistency in the way the characters spoke would make a difference but it won't be taking anything away from the movie. Christina Ricci was good, and her performance made the movie charming.

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  4. Very nice review! Penelope is one of my guilty pleasures. Ricci and McAvoy have great chemistry, and her bedroom is absolutely to-die-for. I completely agree about the language; some of the scenes are really thrown off by the dialogue and script.

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    1. Thank you! Her bedroom design looked like it came out from a fairy tale!

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  5. Christina Ricci alone is worth the price of admission – along with Catherine O'Hara and Richard Grant – but the shortcomings in this film prevent it from being one of the great films in this genre. Your review, however, was delightful.

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    1. Hi! The actors were all great; I really liked Catherine O'Hara's turn as the mom. Even if she's always playing someone frantic, it never gets repetitive. I agree with you there, this had the potential to be great, but it needed tweaking to do so.

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