Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pigging out

Penelope - Mark Palansky - 2006 - 5/10

This was a pretty entertaining flick that had a great concept with only an "okay" follow through. Most of the film left me pondering what it could have done, what it could have been, and also, how similar the concept was to Shrek.


Christina Ricci plays Penelope, a kind girl who's great great grandfather's actions brought a curse on the family that in turn left Penelope with a pig's snout and a pig's ears. However, there is a way Penelope can break the curse - if she can get "one of her own kind" (presumed to be a blue blooded richman) to fall in love with her. Her overbearing mother (Cahterine O'Hara) has tried everything, finally bringing in a high profile matchmaker and installing one-way glass for Penelope to stay behind as her mother carefully guards the family's embarrassing secret. Then one man doesn't run away (James McAvoy), and in fact keeps coming back. Will he be the one?


The acting is one of the best parts of this movie which would have been little more than passing amusement without great performances by Christina Ricci, Catherine O'Hara, James McAvoy, Richard E. Grant (her father). I'm a big McAvoy fan and he carefully steers his character away from the cliched reactions most actors would have succumbed to - especially his facial reactions which are especially scrutinized because of Ricci's face.

Peter Dinklage's amusing yet mysterious investigative reporter is also played well but the movie misses every opportunity to flesh out his character. Most of his actions have no depth behind them - why he does things has almost no answer. This is especially puzzling because his actions are the turning points of each act and his story provides most of the conflict for the film. At the end, you aren't sure whether you should pity him, empathize with him, or just shake your head at him.

Speaking of the film's "acts" the movie hurt itself with a surprisingly short act that failed to develop Penelope's first true romance which was really necessary to set up the whole drama of the rest of the movie. This in turn makes me question the revelations and growth of each of the important characters because they are supposedly because of their connection and inspiration by Penelope. The other implication is a way too long second act that makes the film sort to drag and is further plagued by unnecessary characters like Reese Witherspoon playing the rom-com friend without any of the good parts of the rom-com friend (like emotional explanation and establishing character goals).

I did like the few twists the movie through in - which surprised me because of the movie's generally weak script. I thought through most of the movie that the ending would leave me unsatisfied, but instead I loved the ending and it brought a smile to my face. It also made me think that the rest of the movie could have been better...

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