Metascore
48

Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 29
  2. Negative: 6 out of 29
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Jamie Tipps
    80
    An extraordinarily charming movie.
  2. There are some flat moments, to be sure, and Palansky's direction can be a bit unsteady and awkward, but he doesn't wallow in the eccentricities or the modestly self-empowering moral. This fairy tale feels pleasantly down-to-earth.
  3. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    75
    A sweet, unassuming surprise.
  4. This half-baked fairy tale always seems to be on the verge of becoming charming but despite a good cast it never quite succeeds.
  5. Aimed at tweenage girls and mushy romantics of all age and stripe, Penelope has a quick gait and a nice comic tone.
  6. The result is an entertaining comedy for young girls and older girls who still like a good romantic fable.
  7. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    70
    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.
  8. More tart than sweet, this contemporary fairy tale provides a worthy vehicle for the fearless Christina Ricci.
  9. 67
    Reese Witherspoon, whose production company made Penelope, contributes an inflated cameo that feels forced.
  10. 63
    It's not the best of modern fairy tales but it's sincere and Christina Ricci's earnest and vulnerable performance touches the heart. Penelope is flawed but not irredeemably so.
  11. I wish it were truly special instead of an interesting near-miss.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    63
    Though the film has a strong cast, humor and a satirical take on celebrity culture, the story is spotty.
  13. A first film from director Mark Palansky, written by sitcom veteran Leslie Caveny (Everybody Loves Raymond, Mad About You), and the two are obviously indebted to the fanciful imagination of Tim Burton.
  14. An endearing premise and fanciful spirit aren't quite enough to rescue a film that has more heart than smarts.
  15. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    60
    Ricci is appealingly human, and some acknowledgement of the importance of female friendship, in addition to romance, is faintly touching.
  16. 58
    First-time director Mark Palansky is trying for a deft, hip, modern fairy-tale feel, but the odd material, sprawling story, and complicated tonal balancing act get away from him, and the film winds up as a poorly paced tug-of-war between sweet quirk and sloppy camp.
  17. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    50
    The whimsical ugly-duckling fable becomes more uneven as it proceeds, straining too hard to manufacture its quirky charms.
  18. There are usually good reasons why a movie gets shelved for more than a year, however well-acted it may be and however well-meaning its message. Many are on view in Penelope.
  19. 50
    I found the sight of McAvoy as a piano player in jazzy-seedy duds a lot more disconcerting than Ricci's porcine prosthesis.
  20. There's no real rigor or craft applied to this story -- just mood, tone, neo-gothic imagery and frantic attitude. If only Penelope knew what it truly wished to be and how to go about it. Which is probably what this overly coy fantasy's modestly appealing title character wishes as well.
  21. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    40
    It’s as if Caveny had so many ideas that she simply couldn’t bear to leave any of them crumpled up on her office floor.
  22. 40
    Too heavy on applied charm and too flimsy when it comes to plot. The picture has a hapless, meandering quality that's tolerable at first but ultimately becomes maddening, as if it were a cartoon narrative recounted by a distracted 4-year-old.
  23. 38
    Penelope is dead on arrival.
  24. 38
    Under Mark Palansky's uninspired direction, magic eludes Penelope in scene after scene.
  25. 38
    This story could have gone in a number of more inspiring allegorical directions but winds up your average bedtime story instead.
  26. Penelope was in a trough of trouble before the oink on the script was dry.
  27. A hopeless jumble of visual and linguistic styles.
  28. Is there anything more dull than an ineptly cynical fairy tale?
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 64 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. Sep 5, 2014
    8
    The film isnt perfect, but it is a sweet little romcom. Both leads are very good with nice chemistry. Certianly deserved a better responseThe film isnt perfect, but it is a sweet little romcom. Both leads are very good with nice chemistry. Certianly deserved a better response from the critics. Full Review »
  2. SammieH.
    Aug 11, 2008
    8
    This is such a GOOD movie!! I recommend this movie to everyone!!
  3. MorganF
    Jul 23, 2008
    6
    A pretty decent modern day fairytale. It was surprisingly funny, but I could spot the whole Max/Johnny plot twist a mile off. I didn't A pretty decent modern day fairytale. It was surprisingly funny, but I could spot the whole Max/Johnny plot twist a mile off. I didn't like how she didn't stay a pig face. Thats a nice message for you, as soon as you except yourself, you will change. It was pretty predictable anyway. Take this from a teen girl who lives for romances. Full Review »