2007 Running time: 89 Certificate: pg Rating: 3

Synopsis

Winsome modern fairytale with Christina Ricci as a sweet, young aristocrat cursed with the face of a pig. Her one true love can break the spell, but first there are important lessons to be learned about self-esteem. Rising British star James McAvoy charms as the suitor-with-a-secret, while producer Reese Witherspoon, Lenny Henry and Russell Brand all put their snouts in.

Director

  • Mark Palansky

Cast

  • Christina Ricci

  • James McAvoy

  • Catherine O'Hara

  • Reese Witherspoon

  • Richard E Grant

Review

Heiress Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci) is born with a silver spoon in her mouth but a pig's snout for a nose.

Unsurprisingly, her horrified parents (O' Hara and Grant) take the only logical step and fake her death to avoid the scandal.

It turns out that, generations before, a swinish Wilhern scion had played fast and loose with a household servant, whose very angry mother happened to be the local witch.

In quick succession came pregnancy, abandonment, suicide and a curse. Fast forward 150 years and out pops poor Penelope, snout, pointy ears and all.

Believing that the hog hex can be lifted only when one of Penelope's own kind can love her, her parents hide her from the world, searching for a suitably blue-blooded suitor for their porcine princess.

Hard-bitten tabloid hound Lemon (Peter Dinklage) hires down-on-his-luck aristo Max (McAvoy) to infiltrate the husband hunt and snap photographic proof of the mythical pig girl.

However, Max grows a conscience and funks the mission, falling for Penelope in the process.

Disappointed and desperate for a taste of life, Penelope cunningly disguises herself with a scarf around her face and runs away from home.

Out in the real world she discovers beer (through a straw), friends and self-acceptance - basically "be true to thyself."

Filmed in London with an international cast, this suffers from its confused fictional setting: most of the actors speak with an American accent, including Grant and McAvoy, while lesser characters are left to their British inflections, including local bobby Lenny Henry and jazz club owner Russell Brand.

The whimsy is laid on with a trowel and most of the characters have 'quirky' tattooed on their forehead, but Penelope is a sweet and likeable film.

The main cast deliver convincing performances and the sets and costumes are gorgeous, with debut director Mark Palansky delivering a kind of Tim Burton-lite fairyland.

Produced by Reese Witherspoon (who also pops up in a small role as Penelope's 'spunky' new friend), it's a tween-friendly tale of true love and triumph over adversity.

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