Sweetly ridiculous, ridiculously sweet, "Penelope" is "Beauty and the Beast" with a side of bacon: An otherwise lovely girl (Christina Ricci), born with wealth, privilege and the nose of a pig, wants to find Prince Charming but has to wade through a herd of swine to do it.
Anyone willing to tolerate the tortured premise of the story will be paid off handsomely by several winning performances and a moral that makes most of the absurdity worthwhile. It does take a bit of patience to get into the tale: It seems a witch placed a curse on Penelope's family, the Wilherns, a century or so ago, which said their first-born daughter would be born with a pig face; the afflicted heiress could shake off the curse, but only if she were accepted and loved by "one of her own." Given the Wilhern proclivity for male descendants, it takes a while before baby Penelope shows up.
Wanting her daughter to marry and perhaps lose the schnozz, Penelope's mom, Jessica (Catherine O'Hara), arranges for a parade of male suitors to call, each of whom is eager for the dowry but jumps out the window (literally) when he sees Penelope's face. Eager to get the Wilhern story, a tenacious tabloid reporter named Lemon (a wonderful Peter Dinklage) hires dissipated blue-blood Max Campion (James McAvoy) to sneak in and take Penelope's picture. Things, as they will in such stories, don't quite go according to plan.
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