Movie Review – The Princess Bride
Category : Movie Review
Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin
Given that I was just turning four when The Princess Bride was released in 1987, I doubt I watched it immediately, but I’m sure I made up for that unfortunate fact by popping it in my VCR about a hundred times between the ages of seven and seventeen. This was a movie that my sister and I wore out, that we memorized all the lines to, that we acted out on summer days, that we absolutely adored. It was the best fantasy film I had ever seen, and it remains so to this day, a magical and priceless piece of pop culture that I always connected with on a deeper level than pure fun fluff. It meant more to me that simply being something to watch, and I still hold it as my #3 all-time favorite, even all these years later.
When his grandson is sick, a kind-hearted grandfather comes to visit, bringing a very special book to read and share. It’s a story he used to read to the boy’s father, and now he wants to read it to his child. Reluctantly, the boy agrees, and the tale begins. Buttercup was a simple farm girl, a beautiful maiden living in a fair kingdom. On the land with her was a farmboy named Westley, although she never called him that, and in return he never spoke a word but “as you wish”. Their love would blossom, Westley would go to seek his fortune, and pirate’s would attack, leaving Buttercup with no lover and no hope for the future. Five years later, the prince of the kingdom, Humperdinck, chooses Buttercup as his bride, but before they can be married she is stolen away by a trio of dissimilar assailants. So begins a journey that’s more complicated than meets the eyes, as the men race away with Buttecup, Humperdinck gallops to overtake them, and a mysterious man in black appears to joins the merry chase.
Rob Reiner was something pretty special for a dozen years from 1984 to 1996: Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand by Me, Princess Pride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men, North, The American President, Ghosts of Mississippi. After that there’s nothing much you’d want to talk about, but that’s a pretty impressive period. But then again, literally everything about this film is impressive, so there’s no reason for the director not to be. The story is based on a novel by William Goldman, in which he talks about being sick, how his father read him this incredible book, and how he looked it up later in life, only to find out that it was horrible, that his dad had been jumping around just to touch on the awesome parts. So then we get this film version, with a grandpa reading to a sick grandson, and the rest is history.
I don’t know if Princess Bride can really be called a cult classic, that almost feels too easy. It’s more than that, it’s more like canon, like something as essential to enjoying cinema as knowing how to pop in a DVD. I know I’m biased because I grew up loving this movie, but it really doesn’t get much better in the world of comedy, of entertainment, and of memorable dialogue; this is the pinnacle. The characters, the lines, the humor, the wit; it’s as incredible now as it was thirty years ago. And then there’s the cast, which is epic: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright (before the -Penn), Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane. Wow, just wow, and they were all flawless, which is perhaps the most surprising part of all. The music, the adventure, the fun, the narration; there might not be another movie in existence that works on all levels like Princess Bride does, and that’s why it will always live on in our hearts, which is exactly where stories like this should be.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆