Penelope (2006 film)
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (April 2010)|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Palansky|
|Produced by||Reese Witherspoon
|Written by||Leslie Caveny|
|Music by||Joby Talbot|
|Editing by||Jon Gregory|
|Studio||Stone Village Pictures
Type A Films
Grosvenor Park Productions
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment (USA)
The Weinstein Company (Premiered)
Momentum Pictures (UK)
|Running time||104 minutes|
Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci) is a young woman from a wealthy family with all the qualities to make an excellent match for any other well-bred man of her status. What sets her apart is that she has pig-face disorder.
Generations ago, an embittered witch placed a curse on the Wilhern family after their son had an affair with her daughter, one of the Wilhern servants, and, talked out of marrying her by his disapproving family, abandoned her and married someone of his own status. The distraught and pregnant servant girl then threw herself off of a cliff. Furious, the witch then cursed the Wilherns so that the next daughter to be born into the affluent family would have the face of a pig. For five generations, the Wilherns produced only sons, until Penelope was born, stricken with the curse. It is said that the curse can only be lifted if 'one of her own' learns to love her, which her parents interpret as meaning that Penelope must marry a man of noble birth.
As rumours spread of the existence of a baby with the face of a pig, a dwarf tabloid reporter named Lemon (Peter Dinklage) begins stalking the family to get a photograph of the infant Penelope. Penelope's parents, Jessica and Franklin (Catherine O'Hara and Richard E. Grant), decide to fake their daughter's death and cloister her away in their mansion, where Penelope spends her life immersing herself in intellectual pursuits such as literature, horticulture, and music. When Penelope becomes an adult, her parents attempt to introduce her to possible suitors, hoping that one of them will fall in love with her and break the curse. Unfortunately, every man who lays eyes on her flees in terror, including Edward Humphrey Vanderman III (Simon Woods), a spoiled, cruel-hearted snob who finds her repulsive.
Vanderman's panicked flight from the Wilhern house results in a newspaper article dubbing him insane. To redeem his name, Vanderman decides to team up with Lemon in an effort to get a photograph of Penelope. The two of them track down Max Campion (James McAvoy), a young blue blood disowned by his family, who has developed a gambling problem and is in desperate need of money. Lemon and Vanderman pay Max to pose as a new suitor for Penelope, hiding a camera in his jacket so that he can steal a picture of her. After talking to Penelope through a one-way mirror, Max is unexpectedly caught off guard by her sweetness and charm, and Penelope also trusts him enough to show him her face. Though Max is not frightened of Penelope, he accidentally triggers the camera in his jacket, which causes him to retreat. A heartbroken Penelope believes that Max too finds her monstrous, and instead begs him to marry her simply for her status and in order to break the curse. Max, though obviously torn, insists that he cannot marry Penelope. He then calls off his agreement with Lemon and Vanderman, and destroys the camera, realizing that their attempt to exploit Penelope is wrong.
Meanwhile, Penelope, inspired by Max's conversations about the outside world, decides to flee the protection of her parents' home, and journeys out into the city, naive and ignorant about normal life, and with a scarf to cover her face. While at a bar, Penelope ends up befriending a biker chick named Annie (Reese Witherspoon) who becomes her "real world" mentor. Having no money and seeing that Lemon and Vanderman are offering a reward for a photograph of her, she decides to collect on the reward by producing a photo of herself, essentially coming out of hiding to the public. To her surprise, Penelope becomes an overnight celebrity, flocked by adoring fans who are not disgusted by her face. Penelope's courage in going out to the world then acts as an inspiration for Max, who quits gambling and starts work in an old theatre. Lemon discovers that the man he and Vanderman had recruited to go in to the Wilhern house and photograph Penelope is in fact not Max Campion at all, but a man named Johnny Martin, who simply posed as Campion for the money. Penelope's family wonder whether the only reason "Max" refused to marry Penelope was because he knew that, as a non blue blood, he would not be able to break the curse for her.
Meanwhile, Vanderman's father (Nigel Havers), seeing the public's fondness for Penelope, and embarrassed by his son's vocal cruelty toward her, coerces Edward into proposing to the girl. Penelope nearly marries him, but backs out of the wedding at the last minute when she realises that she does not want to marry simply to break the curse. Though Penelope's mother urges her to marry Vanderman and at last lead a 'normal life', an exasperated Penelope says that she likes herself the way she is. This breaks the curse, as Penelope has at last been loved by 'one of her own kind' - herself - and her pig snout and ears disappear.
As the years pass, Penelope moves on with her life, becoming a horticulturist and teacher, and the spectacle of her former appearance is gradually forgotten by the public. One Halloween, Penelope finds several of her students dressing up as her old pig self, and dons a 'Penelope' mask as she goes to reunite with Johnny, who she discovers lives nearby. Johnny, not knowing that the curse has been broken, kisses Penelope and apologizes to her, saying that he does not have the power to break the curse. Penelope then reveals that she had the power to lift the curse all along, and the two share a passionate kiss, beginning a romantic relationship.
Later Johnny is happily pushing Penelope on a swing in a garden. On a nearby lake, Lemon rows up in a rowboat, and is about to take a picture revealing to the world what has happened to Penelope, but observes their happiness, and decides to let his obsession go.
- Christina Ricci as Penelope Wilhern
- James McAvoy as Johnny Martin ("Max Campion")
- Catherine O'Hara as Jessica Wilhern
- Richard E. Grant as Franklin Wilhern
- Ronni Ancona as Wanda
- Peter Dinklage as Lemon
- Simon Woods as Edward Humphrey Vanderman III
- Nigel Havers as Edward Vanderman II
- Burn Gorman as Larry
- Russell Brand as Sam
- Reese Witherspoon as Annie
- John Voce as Duty Cop
- Nick Frost as Max Campion
- Lenny Henry as Krull
- Richard Leaf as Jack the Bartender
Background and production 
The production of Penelope started in 2006 in London and Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire. According to Internet Movie Database, it was filmed in the United Kingdom. The end credits misspell the name of the famous British film studios in which the film was made as "Pinewoods Studios". Although filmed with a mostly British cast, most of the characters speak with American accents. It premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. It was also Reese Witherspoon's first film in a producing role along with a small acting role.
The finished film was caught in limbo for over a year. Originally purchased by The Weinstein Company and IFC Films, it was removed from the release date schedule and eventually dropped by the two studios. Summit Entertainment eventually picked up United States distribution rights.
Critical response 
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film 52% based on 126 reviews. The site's consensus reads "though Penelope has a charming cast and an appealing message, it ultimately suffers from faulty narrative and sloppy direction." Metacritic gives the film a weighted average rating of 48%, based on 29 reviews — indicating mixed or average reviews.
Box office 
The film premiered September 8, 2006 at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was also shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. The film opened in Russia and Ukraine in August 2007. Penelope was released in the United Kingdom on February 1, 2008. It opened in wide release in the United States and Canada on February 29, 2008.
By October 5, 2008, the film had grossed $20.8 million worldwide—with $6.5 million in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Malta.
Home media 
Penelope was released on July 15, 2008 in the United States. It included a 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track. The extras were a behind-the-scenes featurette, cast and crew, production notes and world-premiere features from the upcoming Summit film Twilight as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews from the film, released four months later.
Joby Talbot composed the music for the film. A soundtrack album was released.
|1.||"The Story of the Curse, Part 1 by Joby Talbot"||3:57|
|2.||"The Story of the Curse, Part 2 by Joby Talbot"||4:58|
|3.||"Waking Life" by Schuyler Fisk"||4:07|
|4.||""The Piano Song" by Meiko"||2:46|
|5.||""Penelope Breaks Free" by Joby Talbot"||1:58|
|6.||""Fairground" by Joby Talbot"||1:31|
|7.||""Give In" by The Secret 6"||4:46|
|8.||""Queen of Surface Streets" by DeVotchKa"||5:26|
|9.||""String of Blinking Lights" by Paper Moon"||4:18|
|10.||""The Wedding" by Joby Talbot"||4:03|
|11.||""Ageless Beauty" by Stars"||4:05|
|12.||""The Kiss" by Joby Talbot"||4:22|
|13.||""Hoppípolla" by Sigur Rós"||4:15|
|14.||""Your Disguise" by James Greenspun"||3:09|
- Penelope-Budget IMDB
- "Penelope". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- Penelope Filming Location-IMDB
- 2006 TIFF Film list
- Penelope Cast and Crew
- "Penelope (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster.
- "Penelope (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
- "Penelope (2006) - Release dates". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
- 'Semi-Pro' Scores $15M, Tops Box Office[dead link]
- "Penelope (2008) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
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