Warnings: rated PG for repeated use of the word "shit", some double entendres (nothing explicit) between the parents
Recommendations: be sure to get the version that's 104 minutes long, the DVD version cuts off a few very important scenes towards the ending.
The Wilherns carry a dark secret; after one of the ancestors left a servant girl pregnant and drove her to suicide, the girl's mother (who was renowned as the village witch) put a curse on them: the next girl to be born in the Wilhern family will have a pig-like appearance which will only disappear after she finds true love with "one of her kind". After five generations of nothing but boys, the Wilherns think they can finally breathe...that is, until Penelope comes along. Wanting only the best for her, her mother keeps her secluded in the family house, away from reporters (and everyone else), all the while training her to be the perfect bride. Unfortunately for them, though, all of Penelope's suitors run away in terror after seeing her face.
The only way Penelope gets to talk to her suitors without them screaming like little girls.
All the characters are likeable and relatable, each with their own flaws and...quirks (I'm looking at you, Reese Witherspoon's character). Penelope stands out not only because she's this fairytale's princess, but because the changes she goes through are believable and happen naturally: she's sheltered but learns to adapt quickly when forced to be on her own, she's mature enough to make her own decisions and more truthful about her appearance than her doting mother. Max, the love interest, can be stiff and soft at times, but ultimately mirrors Penelope: he has to pick himself up, not wait for someone to save him. The parents are also interesting to watch, as they're subtly bitter about the way their daughter changed their lives; it's not all sunshine and daisies when it comes to taking care of a "different" child, and they show it.
You get used to the screams after a while, though.
The movie's overall very entertaining and fast paced, you won't get much rest during the opening scene and the few montages, going at Penelope's pace (or where she's dragged to). The music is fitting for the scenes it's played in (a certain piano piece can become repetitive, though) and the special effects, although a bit dated at times (the animated leaves on the tree), still look good enough even today. The actors deliver solid performances and, even though the ending twist was so-so, it doesn't affect the movie's quality too much. While it's not as flamboyant as Enchanted or as epic as The 10th Kingdom, it's a witty modern fairytale you most likely won't be disappointed with.
My rating: (7/10)
Penelope (2006) on IMDb.com