I’ll admit it. Every once in a while, I enjoy watching a sweet chick-flick. Growing up reading fairy tales, I enjoy true love triumphing against all the odds. Thus, Penelope seemed at first like just another cute movie. However, there was more depth and healing in this heartwarming film than I had expected. As I looked through my movie collection, I stopped at this one realizing that I should write about it for Media Monday.
Synopsis: Confined to her house, Penelope interviews multiple aristocratic gentlemen in hopes for a husband. However, once they see her, the potential spouses take off running. Due to a curse placed on her family, Penelope has a pig nose and ears until someone from her own class loves her. This routine continues on for years but her mother refuses to give up. One day, however, a unique man named Max turns up. Slowly the two of them form a bond. Yet, after he sees her (and does not run away), he states that he cannot marry her. Miserable, the young woman decides to run away and find her own future much to the horror of her controlling mother. Both Penelope and Max learn to grow, heal, and find themselves.
Recovery Pluses: Well, this movie is sweet but it is certainly not just a fluffy cliche. Instead, it had some very powerful and helpful messages about recovery. First of all, we see that looks, charm, and wealth are not everything. Penelope meets some of the most eligible bachelors in her country but they prove to be shallow, unkind, and very easily frightened. Meanwhile, she may have a different look than other people but she has a fun, caring, quirky personality. When people give her a chance, they see her inner and outer beauty. Max, for all his faults, also might not seem like the ideal man. However, he works hard to prove himself and better his life.
However, suitors are not the only people judging Penelope; she also hates herself. When people react to her with interest and genuine car, she is shocked. Her parents are also surprised by all of the positive attention she receives. Slowly, her father learns to give her more space and perhaps her mother does as well although that seems less likely. Better yet, Penelope begins to trust and like herself. As she moves out into the world, she begins to find herself. Others also welcome her open arms instead of simply fearing and mocking her. This leads to another great message that the world is not a totally evil or unkind place. Instead, there are some people who are cruel but many others are friendly and welcoming.
As Penelope moves on independently with her life, she grows in confidence, strength, and self-worth. Meanwhile, Max also strives to become a better person. The transformation that takes place in both of them is a beautiful and hopeful thing. It gave me hope for recovery. To add to this, Max does struggle from addictions of gambling, stealing, and alcohol. He is able to be free from these by the end of the movie.
Many other uplifting themes can be found in this film as well. Friendship plays a large role as Penelope learns that she will not be alone forever despite her appearance. Getting out and exploring the world is extolled. Although Max plays a vital role in the film, the heroine discovers herself without relying on his guidance. Being kind and nonjudgmental to all is also a major message. So there are many positives to take away from this film.
Cautions: Fairly tame, this movie only has a few trouble areas. At one point, a police officer refers to fat girls looking like pigs. The beginning briefly comments (and shows) a suicide and a illegitimate child. Penelope also threatens to commit suicide at one point. Although no blood is shown, a scene where a man is attacked with a fire poker is a bit intense. A few swear words are in the film as well. Overall, I think this film can be a fun family film for all ages although younger ones might not appreciate it as much.
There are numerous chick-flicks and rom-coms out there. However, Penelope offers something different. A fairy tale set in a modern word, it shows the importance of loving oneself before being in a relationship and the attractiveness of inner beauty. Even if you do not normally enjoy romantic movies, I would recommend checking this one out and giving it a chance. More than a cheesy cliche, this movie is an inspiring example of learning to love oneself, explore the world, and find true friends.