Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
|Featuring:||Christina Ricci—“Sleepy Hollow,” “Monster,” “Black Snake Moan”
James McAvoy—“The Last King of Scotland,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (Mr. Tumnus, the Faun), “Atonement”
Catherine O'Hara, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage, Richard E. Grant, Simon Woods, Ronni Ancona, Jason Thornton
|Producer:||Christian Arnold-Beutel, Chris Curling, Danny Greenspun, Robin Greenspun, Andrew Molasky, Paul Ritchie, Michael Roban, Phil Robertson, Dylan Russell, Dylan Russell, Jennifer Simpson, Scott Steindorff, Reese Witherspoon|
“What makes us different makes us beautiful. Sometimes true love is right under your nose.”
Most people have often looked in the mirror and wished they had better hair, a smaller nose, or even wish they could lose some weight. Most of the times, these minor flaws never have potential suitors screaming in horror or jumping out of windows. For seven long years, all men have run from Penelope Wilhern. Why? Because Penelope was born with a pig-snout nose.
Because of an adulterous ancestor, a witch laid a curse upon the Wilhern family: the next girl born would resemble a pig. For nearly a hundred years, only males were luckily born to the wealthy family until Penelope. Trying to protect her from the aggressive paparazzi, her parents faked her death and locked her inside their mansion. To break the curse, Penelope has to be loved by one of her own kind. Her parents hire a matchmaker to help find Penelope a man of blue blood (old money) to marry her. Even her enormous dowry is not enough to keep all potential suitors from running. Legally gagging all men who have seen her face, Penelope’s hidden life is threatened when her last potential suitor manages to escape and tells his story. With the help of a jilted reporter, both men decide to work together to expose Penelope. They hire Max (James McAvoy) to act like a potential suitor and to take a picture of Penelope. When Max begins to fall for Penelope, she decides she has had enough and decides to leave her only haven and to explore the world for herself.
While the movie does keep the formula of a romantic comedy, I found it surprisingly refreshing and funny. Having many good morals, the film never becomes too preachy or sappy. Penelope’s character was both loveable and, most importantly, believable. Several characters are well-rounded and superbly cast. Having seen most of Christina Ricci’s movies, I found this movie to be an excellent change for her.
The offensive content in this film is quite mild. I only counted about 2 misuses of the Lord’s name and about 5 mild profanities. They are spread throughout the film and are not concentrated by only one character use. There is some drinking in the movie. Penelope does appear to become intoxicated after having some beer on tap, but she never acts overly drunk or stupid. She tells Max that if the curse is not broken if they marry, she’ll kill herself.
Max is addicted to gambling, but it only shows his addiction in a negative light, and he eventually overcomes his addiction. While Penelope teaches her new friend, Annie, about a particular flower that is able to pop up and grow without any help, her friend mentions her boyfriend was like that. While Penelope looks clueless, Annie never goes on to explain it. I found this one comment to be entirely unnecessary in the film.
The main theme in the film is the true shallowness of outer beauty. While the audience falls in love with Penelope, her pig-snout nose becomes less noticeable. This reminds me of when the prophet Samuel was sent by the Lord to anoint the new king of Israel. Although King David was to be the new king, once Samuel saw David’s good-looking brother, Eliab, Samuel automatically assumed he was to be the new king. However, the Lord quickly corrected Samuel:
“Do not consider his appearance or his height… The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7.
The most powerful scene which I found in the movie was when Max decided to overcome his gambling addiction. When finding out that he had spent ten-plus hours wasting away his money and life, he decided to simply leave. As he was going towards the door, the noises of the poker chips and money got louder and louder, enticing him to stay. Once he left the dark gambling hall, it became bright and quiet. Every single person, whether Christian or not, struggles with some kind of sin. While it may seem hopeless to ever overcome an addiction or temptation, one must read what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13—
“…And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
While Satan might try to entice us by making us feel there is no way out, there is often a front door or the ignition of one’s car to escape such temptation.
With the above reservations, I happily recommend this sweet movie for parents of tweens and up. It creates the opportunity to bring about much discussion about the world’s definition of beauty versus the Lord’s and even overcoming addictions and temptations. The film warmly shows how people with less attractive features just want to be loved and not teased. Children should be taught that at these times, they can stand out and show the love of Christ to everyone.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.