Filed under: News, Reviews, Contests | Tags: Amelie, Carrie Rollwagen, Christina Ricci, hoverboard, Penelope, Pretties, Scott Westerfeld, Some New Trend, Tally Youngblood, Vespa
BOOK REVIEW (& MOVIE REVIEW) :: Carrie Rollwagen
Uglies, by Scott Westerfield, is set in a future that worships beauty, pledges allegiance to conformity, and champions plastic surgery as a basic human right. I loved the book, and I’m halfway through Westerfield’s third (Specials), so I wanted to write about Uglies today … I really did. But I can’t stop thinking about my latest Netflix rental, Penelope.
In this modern fairytale, sort of a reverse Beauty and the Beast, Christina Ricci plays the “beast” — a blue-blooded girl who is born the victim of a family curse. The old magic that gave her the nose of a pig won’t be lifted until she’s completely accepted by one of “her own,” i.e. married to a rich boy from a good family. Penelope’s mother dedicates both of their lives to finding a suitable husband so her daughter can have a suitable nose.
I’ll admit, Penelope is no Academy Award winner. But I loved the costuming (very Anthropologie meets storybook meets craft fair) and the set design (it reminded me of Amelie), and the tights (I heart tights). Plus, I watched it on a lonely Saturday when I was feeling sentimental. But I think its sometimes cheesy moments and a few not-so-believable characters (I like Reese Witherspoon, but not as a spiky-haired, Vespa-driving, one-woman messenger service) are more than offset by a funny, sarcastic, and deceptively simple story.
Penelope’s defining moment comes, not at the hands of a Wicked Witch or a Prince Charming, but as she finally makes her own way in the world. She’s a damsel who’s capable of handling her own distress.
In that way, Penelope isn’t such a departure from Uglies, not really. Sure, the movie puts a fairy-tale twist on the present day, and the book takes us into a surgery-obsessed future, but the moral of both stories is the same: Accepting uniqueness is far more important than striving for some abstract, idealized concept of beauty, whether it’s obtainable or not.
A solid message can often seem preachy and naïve, but not here. Penelope sings its moral into your ear instead of beating it over your head, and Pretties intoxicates the reader into following on a rollercoaster ride (quite literally — and on a hoverboard).
If you’ve ever wanted to be prettier, or you’ve ever felt like a pig (and who hasn’t), you’ll be able to relate to Penelope and Uglies. Fantasy worlds can be fun, but they’re also a looking glass into our own lives. And that’s why , I think, we like them.
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