Monday, October 18, 2010

Magical Movie Monday: Penelope

My daughter (Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage blog) was over during the week and recorded this charming 2006 movie for me on the DVR. I'd never seen it, but I knew that she's planning on being Penelope for Halloween this year, so I thought, "fun, let's watch this." So I plopped down to work on drawing African Monarch butterfly wings for my Aziza Fairy piece and watched a modern fairy tale, Penelope.

This was a totally cute movie. Like so many fairy tales, this one starts out with a witches curse. "Ugh," I thought, "that tired old chestnut." Witches often get relegated to the magical thug in so many fairy tales, even the modern ones they are seldom portrayed in a positive light, which is a shame. But, let's face it, I can't really blame this witch for being so upset. The witches daughter, a servant girl, got pregnant by the wealthy young aristocratic son of the Wilhern family. His family ridiculed him for thinking of wedding a servant, so he spurned her. She was so distraught that she tossed herself off a cliff. So the witch put a curse on the family that the next girl born to the family would be born with the nose of a pig. Pretty mild really, considering the loss that the witch had just suffered. As we find out in the end, there's more to the witch than meets the eye. Like all good fairy tale curses, the witch gave her an "out." The curse would only be broken when one of her own kind loves her faithfully just as she is. After 5 generations of only boys being born in the Wilhern family, Penelope was born, with a pigs nose.

Stalked by paparazzi and reporters, the family faked her death and kept her hidden from the public, but once she was old enough to marry, her mother began working with a dating service, bringing in all the blue blooded young men they could find making them sign a gag agreement promising not to talk about meeting Penelope (Christina Ricci.) Once they saw her however, they all end up diving out of the window including Edward Vanderman who does blab, and as a result was accused of being a little off his rocker.

He teamed up with a small statured reporter (Peter Dinklage who I loved in Death at a Funeral and Elf) with an eye patch who has a grudge against Penelopes mom for the loss of his eye while trying to take Penelope's photo as an infant. They both wanted to "out" Penelope for their own reasons and enlisted the help of another bachelor whom they were told is a down and out aristocrat with gambling debts and agrees to help them, until he falls for Penelope, and then things get even more interesting.

I think I'm not the only one who thought Christina Ricci looked totally cute with her pig nose, hardly bad enough to send suitors shooting out the window. She's got those big soulful eyes, so it really worked. James McAvoy plays her slightly scruffy hat wearing love interest with lots of sex appeal and a kind of modern James Dean like charm that makes him very easy to watch. Reese Witherspoon surprised me with her performance as Annie, the street tough courier that rides a winged Vespa and befriends Penelope. Catherine O'Hara was spot-on as Penelope's overbearing mom, reminding me of her role as Delia in Beetlejuice. Though he had a small role, I must also give a nod to Burn Gorman who played the late, resurrected, and then finally dead again Owen in one of my fave series' BBC's Torchwood. I really loved Penelope's bedroom, it looked positively enchanting, any little girl would love that room! They decorated it to look like the outdoors, she even had a swing!

This movie has several really great themes in common with classic fairy tale story lines, of course the most obvious being that what some might think of as a big flaw, might also be considered quite cool by others, case in point: Cindy Crawfords mole, which became her trademark. She was once told she could never be a model with it and she should have it removed. We must all value ourselves sometimes in the face of someone else's less than good opinion of us. Also, the theme of loving your family no matter what is very prominent. As I try not to give any spoilers, I still must mention the theme of learning to be comfortable in your own skin and accepting yourself "flaws" and all is one of my favorite messages of this movie. The butterfly theme appeared throughout the movie and the advertising too, pointing to the theme of perceived beauty as well as inner and outer transformation. It made me glad I was drawing butterfly wings while watching it.

We all have cards that life deals us, and perhaps find that we all have a curse or two either literally or figuratively. It's how we deal with those that's important, life's challenges are tests that we all must face. My favorite quote and the very most important lesson from this movie came from the wisdom of a child, "It's not the power of the curse, it's the power you give the curse." That is a great lesson that we all can take to heart.

If you're looking for a magical movie with heart, give Penelope a try, I bet you'll fall for her too.

Monday Movie Featured Item:

The Lady of the Forest, while she has no pigs nose, she does have very long faun ears and horns, and it would take a really big hat to cover them up.  She's beautiful just the same!  She adorns this compact mirror so that you can see how lovely you are! Available in our Etsy shop
Bright Blessings,


  1. Oooo, I'm always on the lookout for a good fairytale film to escape into and this sounds perfect! Must take a note of it :)

    Thanks for the comment on my blog party post, by the way. I especially enjoyed the idea of living in a castle in the country in five years time. You're invited to the housewarming!

    Thanks for bringing my the film to my attention and hope you're having a lovely day!

    Roisin x

  2. Thank you so much for visiting with me. I love your blog! I never got a chance to see this film and now I very much want to! Thanks for reviewing it. :) Theresa

  3. Thank you for reminding me of this one! I shall have to look out for it as its just the sort of film i know i will love x

  4. I love penelope. This movie is magical, the colorful costumes always remind me of another fairytale-ish favorite: Pushing Daisies :)


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