Tuesday, May 05, 2009


When some friends stayed with us during Spring Break a few weeks ago, we finally got around to watching Penelope. I had wanted very much to see it when it originally came out, but didn't get to. It had been sitting in our Netflix queue for months, and thanks to the Xbox, we can watch all that stuff on the big TV (rather than all of us cramming into the spare bedroom and asking our guests to squint across the room at the computer screen). We all wanted something light (and light on the swearing/violence, since our little night owl was still awake at 11:00 pm). We figured this should fit the bill.

It did, and then some. What a GREAT movie. As the final credits rolled, Ryan and I asked each other how we could be so stupid as to have put off its viewing for this long. It was freaking fantastic. Funny, smart, lushly realized and beautifully acted. Not only did all four adults (HA! We're adults!) enjoy it, but it was a very rare thing: a fairy tale I would totally let my daughter watch. Encourage her to watch, even. Oh, yeah. It was that awesome.

Our friend Morgan said she'd seen some not-so-great reviews of it when it orignally came out. I was flabberagasted. "How could anyone not love this movie?" I asked. "How did it not make a gajillion bucks? It's so smart and young and funny and witty. It's well-written and well-acted. The director and the performers all turned in good performances, but resisted the temptation to go cartoony. There's enough fun dialogue to keep the adults listening but enough jokes to keep kids entertained. The plot didn't go where we thought it was going, but in a good way, it didn't take the hokey, sappy route. The sets and costumes are stunning, and the takeaway moral/lesson/point is one that I hope every little kid- girls especially - would be encouraged to learn. How did it not do well?!"

"Well," Ryan pointed out, "maybe that's why. Maybe it didn't do well precisely because it's so awesome. It's not exactly the Bratz movie or Hannah Montana. It's kind of the opposite of those things. People can't handle thinking anymore."
"True," I conceeded. "And this is not a movie that will sell lots of shitty plastic toys, either."
"Which," he said, "Is probably exactly why we love it so much."

Which is not to say that I wouldn't buy Piper a Penelope doll. I totally would. And a playset of her bedroom. Oh, and I want to dress her as Penelope for Halloween this year (if you've seen the movie, you'll get the joke).

But seriously, everyone should see this movie. And then buy it for some kids. 'Cause it's great.

Also, as an aside to Morgan (or my knitting peeps): I found a pattern for the scarf that seems pretty accurate. But holy shit, it's ten feet of colorwork stockinette in the round. So, um, like I said, I'll have one for you in about twenty years. The original was apparently up on Ebay last year.

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