The Princess Bride – Classic, Romantic Comedy, Fairytale

The Princess Bride – Classic, Romantic Comedy, Fairytale

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  1. Can fairytales be funny?  Of course they can!  Take Rob Reiner’s (When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men) 1987 adaptation of the William Goldman novel, The Princess Bride, for example… it is a fairytale and it is very funny.  It’s also romantic, action-packed at times, and more.  It was only nominated for one Oscar which was for Willy DeVille’s Original Song "Storybook Love," but has continued to capture audiences’ imaginations even until now.

    What is it about?

    This film is a frame story in which a young child wants his grandfather to read him a story.  The story his grandfather tells him is the story we see played out in the film.  In that story, a beautiful maiden named Buttercup (Robin Wright) continuously verbally abuses a farmhand named Westley (Cary Elwes) by ordering him around.  Westley’s only response is always "as you wish" but what he really means by that is "I love you."  Once Buttercup realizes this, Westley has left the farm to make some money so he can marry her.  She finds out, though, that his ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts who has a reputation for killing everyone on the ships he takes over.  Assuming Westley is dead, she ends up being forcibly engaged to the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon).

    It turns out Westley is not dead.  He was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, but ended up becoming his friend and eventually took over his name and ship.  As Dread Pirate Roberts, Westley goes on a quest to find and save Buttercup so he can be with her.  This quest leads him into a battle of wits with a criminal genius named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a duel with a fencing master named Inigo (Mandy Patinkin), and a fist fight with a giant named Fezzik (Andre the Giant).  It also forces him to brave a dangerous forest, get tortured almost to the point of death, and attack Prince Humperdinck’s castle despite being ‘mostly dead.’

    For that final effort to save Buttercup from Humperdinck, he teams with Inigo and Fezzik and they are able to save Buttercup.  While they’re at it, Inigo is also able to avenge his father’s death, a task on which he has been hell-bent for many, many years.  And, just like any good fairytale, there is a kiss and everyone lives happily ever after… well, the good guys do.

    Is it any good?

    Being a fairytale, the story is expectedly cheesy at times and is very predictable.  That doesn’t make it a bad film, though.  Even though you may know the general direction of where the story is going, it entertains you as it get there.  The main reason it keeps you entertained is that the characters are very interesting and engaging.  It’s easy to understand why these characters do what they do and you really want them to succeed; especially Westley because everyone can get behind true love.

    The very interesting thing this film does writing-wise is that instead of using voiceovers like many movies based on books do; it sort of gives a running commentary from the kid and grandfather.  And this running commentary addresses some things that don’t make sense in the story, seem cheesy, etc.  So the film is a somewhat cheesy, cliche fairytale but it realizes that and makes fun of it… which is nice.  Also, Billy Crystal’s cameo as Miracle Max is a performance that steals the movie.  So good!

    The Princess Bride is fun for the whole family so rent it, buy it, do whatever it takes to see it if you haven’t.  And, if you have, it’s worth watching again.

    Nolan’s Grade:  A

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