Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Penelope--a whimsical movie with a good message
My daughter and I watched a charming movie the other day that must have completely escaped my notice when it first came out. It was Penelope...a whimsical, funny tale that I think has a good underlying message about self-esteem for young girls.
Penelope is a young woman born into a rich family that has been cursed. The first daughter born to the family will be born with a pig's snout...and will remain that way until she is loved by "one of her own kind."
Christina Ricci does a good job as Penelope, bringing just the right touches of humor and longing. Although it's obvious she wants to be released from the curse, she's able to laugh at herself and create a rich world in the privacy of her own room, to which she's pretty much been exiled.
Catherine O'Hara is hilarious as Penelope's mother, who is frantically bent on getting her daughter married off to a blue-blood so the curse can be lifted. Her character should give pause to moms who unreasonably try to change their daughters.
But the real charmer in the movie, for me anyway, is James McAvoy (you'll remember him as the faun in The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe) as the guy who falls for Penelope without seeing her...and whose love proves true even when he does get a load of the snout.
Although hiding his beautiful Scottish accent with an American one (why? there are lots of other British accents in the film), it's easy to fall for his character. Who wouldn't love a guy who sees past a horrible defect to the beauty of the girl inside? McAvoy is not conventionally handsome, but he was quite attractive in this movie.
Although modern, the movie has a fairy tale feel. The creators of the film said they tried to portray it as taking place "any time, anywhere," and they pretty much succeeded.
Best of all, besides being fun and entertaining, the movie says good things to young girls in an age where eating disorders and teen-age plastic surgery are all too common.
I enjoyed it very much.