March 10, 2008 12:00 PM

Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon, Catherine O’Hara | PG |


Where her nose should be, Penelope (Ricci) has a snout that would look just lovely on a pig. It’s the result of an ancient family curse. Only by marrying and kissing a fellow blue blood can she gain a human honker. Penelope is a slight romantic fable that cheerfully takes satirical swipes at current cultural obsessions with appearance and fame. It likely read as wittier on the page than it plays, but this is a winningly tart—though overlong—film. Savvy tweens and teens will find it thought provoking, not to mention romantic; adults will be mildly charmed. Ricci makes for an engagingly pug-nosed and pugnacious heroine. As a potential swain, McAvoy exhibits a louche sweetness. Witherspoon, who also produced, adds zip in a small role as a brash, motorbike-riding pal, and the ever-great O’Hara displays her usual comic brio as Penelope’s overprotective mom.

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