hopscotchee: james mcavoy score: 65.5 rating: pg time: 104 minutes
correction. it was not narnia #1 that was our favorite movie as kids, it was this one. the lovely, the classic, the tender penelope. this early 2000s take on swan lake is heartfelt yet secretly impactful and an absolute must-watch recommendation from the twins. we were mega-thrilled when we decided to kick the lameo kevin (we need to talk about kevin movie) to the curb, because that let us speedway this pending batch-4 flick!! and let us tell you, we did spot a few nuances and storylines here and there that our toddle bottom selves didn't catch the first 30+ times, but penelope has still yet to disappoint. (if anything, it makes you disappointed in today's standards).
the magic dust was plentiful throughout this 104 minute tale, but the first handful that we want to address is the quirkiness. easily the standout through the entire film, the unique fairytale accents twisted with modern chíc-ness was well spotlighted, specifically in the coordination of everything that was in-frame. now it may not be an obvious coordination like britney and justin's iconic 2001 AMAs denim fit, but the coupling between the set department and costuming was there. giving us a clear "love song" by sara bareilles vibe with the film's whimsicalness, the magical duo allowed the viewers to sink into the fantasy and cherish every bit of common-day romance perfectly!! equally as important, this powerhouse crossover in departments has managed to preserve the love and charm for this film and keep it surviving and thriving still 'til this day. and that's without the already-loaded on love for early 2000s nostalgia!! (which is saying a lot.)
a second pinch of dust came from the actors. to clarify, if you have seen our insta commentary for penelope, NO we aren't just talking about the amazing casting of mr. james mcavoy, although we will talk about him in a minute, but every single person casted in this movie captured their roles exquisitely. for one, reese witherspoon is in this film, and we only know that because our mom would tell us that "reesey's in this" before we sat down to watch it as children. it's basically burned in our brains. but, if you didn't tell us, there is a good chance we would have been oblivious, because her portrayal of annie (such a cute name btw), was packed with subtle depth. she embodied her character and was the quintessential early aughts 'edgy', 'cool' friend, who was always sporting bold hair looks and (of course) owned of a vespa. moving on, let's now discuss mr. 2008 hottie, james mcavoy. this was no tumnus the hummus!! instead we got a smokey-bar-life cutie - who is rocking what the bieber hair should've been. and apart from our not-so-subtle hots for (spoiler) 'max' aka johnny, mcavoy shines in this movie. we proclaim this a definite highlight in his career, because we state that nobody - NOBODY - could've been a better 'max' aka johnny than him. we mean, the "you are my sunshine" scene....forget about it!!
that said, the one thing that we did catch that was more problematic than the others was the moral at the end. in typical v20 (very early 2000s) fashion, we (spoiler) couldn't dare leave penelope with her original nose. like, even though we have this wonderful character-evolution where she now accepts who she is and isn't reliant on what others think of her to feel great about herself, we then have the curse break?!?! it almost feels counteractive - no it IS counteractive - to the original moral of the story, revolving around earnest themes of self-acceptance, inner beauty, and not judging a book by its cover. sure, one could say that we are fortunate to be seeing this in the light of 2022 where, for the majority, we have made tremendous progress in the "accepting others" field, however, here at twinsAF, we felt it was necessary to point out that this climatic resolution doesn't send the best of morals today.
in the end, it's overly evident that the storytellers in the early aughts only liked to dangle the idea of embracing each other's differences but not fully embrace it themselves, yet penelope has managed to hold on tight (spider monkey) to its magic by obtaining high marks in quirky coordination and a spectacular cast that would go far in the future. we know that this is technically a kids film, but we encourage everyone to go and watch penelope. you won't be disappointed!!
-- thanks, 2008 hottie, james xo