Giving a gender tweak to Beauty and the Beast, this is a contemporary fable about a princess who is cursed with a pig snout.
Many years ago, a heartless Wilhern aristocrat impregnated a young serving girl. Her mother, a witch, gave the family a curse that the next female child would be born with a deformity – a pigs snout – that will only disappear when one of her own blue-blooded kind loves her. For generations, there were only sons until Penelope (Christina Ricci).
When she was born, sleazy tabloid journalists, like Lemon (Peter Dinklage), so hounded the family that her overly protective parents (Catherine OHara, Richard E. Grant) faked her death. Sweet-natured porcine Penelope grew up sheltered in an attic bedroom, surrounded by toys. But now shes of age and a proper socialite suitor must be found.
One cad (Simon Woods), who escapes before he signs the required confidentiality agreement, babbles about the Miss Piggy encounter which alerts Lemon that Penelope Wilhern is still alive. Together they connive to hire Max (James McAvoy) to pose as a prospective husband and snap a photograph. But while clueless Max is charmed by her, he cannot propose, so Penelope flees into the outside world where shes befriended by a bike courier, Annie (Reese Witherspoon, also executive producer), and, eventually, decides to go public.
Written by Leslie Caveny and directed by first-time filmmaker Mark Palansky, its a whimsical romance. Shedding her usual caustic persona, Christina Ricci cleverly embodies the plucky heroine and Peter Dinklage proves, once again, why hes one of the best character actors on the screen today. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Penelope is a plucky 7, as the ugly-duckling fantasy morphs into a satiric take on celebrity culture.