In this modern-day fairy tale, a young woman cursed with the nose of a pig lives her entire life in seclusion—until an unlikely beau stumbles onto the scene and convinces her to celebrate her inner beauty.
Thanks to a stupid decision made by one of her ancestors, Penelope is cursed to live life with the nose and ears of a pig. And because her parents think they know best, they keep her out of the eyes of the judgemental public for more than 20 years. The only people Penelope gets to see are her mother, father, butler and a matchmaker hired by her mother to find the boy who will break the curse. It’s not until she meets Max that she finds a true friend … but is he really all he says he is?
Richard E. Grant as Franklin Wilhern
Richard plays a fantastic father figure in Penelope, but is a little overrun by his overbearing wife (see below).
Catherine O’Hara as Jessica Wilhern
Catherine is superb at playing a domineering woman who’s prone to outbursts of the overly dramatic. Jessica is a kind woman, who truly believes that she’s got her daughter’s best interests in mind, but really she’s just suffering from a mixture of being afraid of what people will think about her because of Penelope and being afraid of Penelope getting hurt.
Michael Feast as the witch/Jake
I love that Michael plays both a witch—and a good one at that—and the family’s butler. He doesn’t say much in either role, but has a wonderful presence that can pull off both characters so well.
Christina Ricci as Penelope Wilhern
Christina, even with a pig snout, is too cute for her own good. Penelope is a sweet and intelligent young lady, who wants nothing more than to see the world and be her own person. Christina plays her delightfully.
Simon Woods as Edward Vanderman
Think Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Bingley, but instead of being a loveable doofus, Edward is a douchey one. Simon plays both quite well.
Peter Dinklage as Lemon
Lemon is a reporter who’s after the truth about Penelope, but doesn’t realize that the way he’s going about it is doing more harm than good until it’s nearly too late. Peter is such an amazing actor, I’d probably enjoy watching him read the phone book. He’s also wearing an eye patch while in character. An eye patch!
Burn Gorman as Larry
Larry’s a fellow reporter, and serves his purpose well. The only thing that really stands out about him is the bizarre accent Burn affects for the role.
James McAvoy as Max
Max is a gambler and a bit of a ne’er-do-well. He meets Penelope under somewhat false pretenses, but soon comes to realize that she’s a genuinely wonderful human being, and she changes him as much as he changes her. I can never resist James in a romantic lead role, either, and he continues to delight as Max.
Nick Frost in a brief cameo role
Nick’s role is minor, but the fact that he’s in the movie at all just adds to its appeal.
Reese Witherspoon as Annie
Annie the Vespa-riding messenger, is a total sasspot and is a true friend to Penelope. Reese is great in the role, mixing together a good blend of of snark and warmth.
Russell Brand as Sam
Another brief cameo role, but I had to mention that he was in it too to show how superb this cast is.
Couch-Sharing Capability: High
Penelope is one of my favorite feel-good movies. It’s sweet and a little inspirational, plus, the sheer amount of great actors in the movie will hopefully please even the pickiest of your friends. I believe this is a movie that everyone should watch at least once, even the most jaded individuals.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Low
Like I said above, everyone must know this movie and love it. No alcohol needed.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Great
Penelope is a movie about embracing the things that make you unique, regardless if other people might misunderstand them. It’s about being true to yourself and not judging a book by it’s cover. Plus, it’s got a fantastic cast and Pushing Daisies-esque design, and a quasi-bad boy played by James McAvoy. You can’t really go wrong.