So this week, I downloaded and watched a movie called "Penelope". I heard both good and bad things about this movie. So I was pretty curious about it.
(The Japanese poster is adorable).
Generally, the story of Penelope is a modern fairy-tale inspired romantic comedy, heavily inspired by Beauty and the Beast. Du to an inter-generational curse, Penelope was born with the face of a pig. The spell will break if someone of her "own kind" (aka royalty) accepts her. So, with the help of her neurotic mother, she conducts various romantic interviews via a two-way mirror, behind which you can find her whimsical lair full of plans and trinkets. However, whenever she finally shows herself to the suitor, he runs away. Until, of course, she gets to this suitor who doesn't, but still refuses to marry her for a mysterious reason.
Now. I'm not gonna lie. This movie was kinda bad. There's a few bad things that really weight the movie down. For starters, it doesn't seem like the movie decided if it wanted to be mainstream Hollywood or alternative. So it mixes elements that are very classic and predictable with details that are very artsy. As a result, both sides are never pushed fully, giving us a movie that kinda awkwardly rides in-between. Some of the acting is flat. A lot of montage is weird, and the whimsical background look fake more then enchanting.
But I still watched all the way to the end because this movie had some really good plot twists. I mean, really, really good plot twists that basically do add a lot to the Hollywood fairy-tale twist. Such has to how they solve the spell. Without giving anything away, Penelope ends up saving herself. But the fact that she does unlocks her own tower opens up this huge "I guess my parents never loved me" thing that is never exploited. There's a lot of subplots (about the father, the sister, the butler, Penelope's friends, her boyfriend) that could have been really awesome. They are brought in well, but then never exploited. I think that's the main idea with Penelope - lots of great ideas that go nowhere, making the movie rather dull and skin-deep rather then really intriguing. But it is cute, and Penelope is a fun character. Making it a good movie for the younger kids that won't annoy the living crap out of parents, since it does have good points. It just doesn't know what to do with them.
My last critique would be about Penelope's "pig face", which is about as horrifying as Gerald Butler's "mild sunburn" in the Phantom of the Opera movie. Again, the beast side isn't pushed enough. She's downright cute. A bit odd-looking, but cute! There's this "evil" (again, not pushed enough) prince that seems to see her worse then she really is (he describes her with fangs and stuff). And you get to see his vision at some point and it does look terrifying. I wonder if the movie was trying to imply that Penelope "looks" worse to someone who has a bad heart? Maybe explaining why all the blue-bloods basically going to the interviews to score her dowry run out screaming. But again, the movie never pushes that, never tells us anything about that, reducing the bad guys as really shallow wimps.
Penelope - Could stand a good remake. Because it really has a ton of potential.