Penelope is a lovely coming of age story based in London staring Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Peter Dinklage, Catherine O’Hara, and Reese Witherspoon. The talented cast brings this intelligent heart warming tale alive.

The Wilhern family is blessed with money and a high social standing, but they also have a dark secret. Several generations ago the unapproving head of the family broke up a love affair. The lovers were avenged by a curse put on the next Wilhern female descendent. Penelope (Ricci) happens to be the unlucky lady. The curse left Penelope with a pig-like nose and ears. The only way to break the curse is for Penelope to find true love with another blue-blood. To protect her daughter’s feelings and the family’s good name, Penelope’s mother Jessica Wilhern (O’Hara), fakes Penelope’s death and then hides her away in the family mansion. Penelope grows up alone in her own fairly-tale like bedroom.

Penelope’s story is hot gossip throughout the years and big cash for any reporter who can catch a picture of her. One of these reporters, Lemon (Dinklage) sneaks into the mansion, but is soon caught by Jessica. Lemon makes it his life work to capture Penelope’s photograph.  As Penelope becomes of age her mother invites possible husbands to the mansion. Every suitor leaves the home screaming from the sight of Penelope. The family almost gives up hope until Max (McAvoy) arrives. Max has an automatic rapport with Penelope, but he is also hiding a secret. Max, a gambling addict short on money, is being paid by Lemon to capture the first photograph of Penelope.

Christina Ricci brings her sweet and naive side out as Penelope. Her huge sparkling eyes captured me. James McAvoy, the IT man of the moment, portrayed his struggles between needing money and not wanting to hurt Penelope with honest realism. I do have to say I could not stand his hair, throughout the movie I wanted to give him a buzz cut. Catherine O’Hara was fantastic as ever. She is a comic genius that does not receive the recognition she deserves. Reese Witherspoon role was small, but when she was in a scene she stood out among the rest.  

This is the first film for director Mark Palansky and I was fairly impressed. The film flowed smoothly and I was never board. It could of easily come off as hokey, but it never did.

I highly recommend this cute little Independent film. It teaches several life lessons in an entertaining non-cheesy way. This is a film the whole family can enjoy.  

Rated PG

 DVD extras: “The Making of a Modern Day Fairy Tale” and behind the scenes for Twilight.