The funny thing about The Princess Bride is I feel like I have seen it a lot recently but when I actually sat down to watch it for this review I realized it had been many years. It’s just such a popular film and so often quoted that it kind of has a life of its own. I used to joke we should make the script another book of scripture it is so often quoted among my fellow Mormons. So is it worthy of the praise? Does it hold up? In my opinion it totally does and is worthy of all the hype it gets.
If I had to pick 3 movies to take to a desert island Princess Bride would be one of them. Why? Well, to my eyes it’s the perfect blending of everything you could want. It has humor, adventure, sword fighting, witty dialogue, heroes, villains, romance, storming the castle and more. It looks great and I am never bored with this new fairy tale.
I also think Princess Bride is one of the few movies to actually improve upon the book. In William Goldman’s novel he interrupts the narrative repeatedly with little author asides and commentary. In the movie these interruptions are handled by the little boy and his Grandpa reading to him. This is a much more tolerable solution and it is used sparingly. Plus the Grandpa is played by Peter Falk so you can’t go wrong with that!
The Grandpa is reading a story to his sick Grandson (Fred Savage) and it is a great classic epic tale. I hardly need to summarize it is so well known but I’ll try. Wesley (Cary Elwes) and Buttercup (Robin Wright) fall in love and he leaves to make his fortune. Unfortunately his ship is attacked by pirates leaving Buttercup devastated.
Meanwhile the prince of the land, Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon) has decided to name Buttercup as his bride even though she does not want to marry him. Before the wedding 3 bandits abduct the princess and that’s where our story begins!
The Bandits consist of a lovable giant (Andre the Giant), a suave sword fighting Spaniard out for revenge (Mandy Patinkin) and the mastermind behind it all Vizzini (Wallace Shawn). He is hoping to goad the Prince into declaring war on a neighboring war but his plans are thwarted when a masked man catches them and challenges them to feats of fencing, fighting and wit.
Where do I begin on Princess Bride? Everything is so top notch it is hard to know where to start.
First, the acting is great across the board. The casting was perfect. I love Billy Crystal as Miracle Max. Some people play great against type like Christopher Guest, a comedian, as the 6 Fingered Man. Sarandon is deliciously evil and small as Humperdink and Wright and Elwes have tremendous chemistry.
If there ever was a person born to play a part it is Cary Elwes as Wesley. He has an old school Douglas Fairbanks charm to him and you believe him completely in the part.
Andre the Giant and Mandy Patinkin have wonderful chemistry as well and are very sweet together. You really feel for Patinkin’s character Inigo Montoya who lost his father and desperately wants revenge.
You also have terrific set pieces like the Cliffs of Insanity and the Fire Swamp with its Rodents of Unusual Size. I also love the cave where Wesley is tortured. There is something so delightfully creepy about it.
The choreography in the sword fight sequences is some of the best I’ve ever seen and it is so much fun to watch. My only real complaint is that some of the special effects, particularly when they jump out of a window look cheesy but it is no big deal.
Another reason Princess Bride is so popular is it is squeaky clean for this kind of story. I think that is why it is especially popular in the Mormon world. You can watch the adventure with your entire family and all enjoy it. I know I have happy memories of watching it with my family. It also has an appeal for both boys and girls equally (unlike say a Barbie movie that is just mainly for girls).
Rob Reiner has had a hit and miss filmography but The Princess Bride will undoubtedly go down as his best film. I love it and if by some miracle you haven’t seen it go right now and give it a watch. I think you will love it too!