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Princess Bride, The (1987)


It DOES have two sides!
It DOES have two sides!

Genre: Family Fantasy Comedy Adventure

Starring: Cary Elwes (Hot Shots!Saw), Mandy Patinkin (“Criminal Minds”“Dead Like Me”), Robin Wright (MoneyballBeowulf (2007))

Directed By: Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally...Stand By Me)

Overview: The story of True Love interrupted by a trio of kidnapping hoods, a harsh land, and the son-of-a-bitch prince who’s chasing it down to step on its neck.

Mandy Patinkin might be known today for subtler, more authoritative roles where he quietly displays the sheath of the power he could wield. Whether the usually calm boss to the Reapers in "Dead Like Me", or a pensive G-man in "Homeland", he's certainly playing roles that are more subdued than in his sword-aloft role of Inigo Montoya, noble thug who debatably upstages Cary Elwes’s Westley. But I get ahead of myself – on to high adventure…

We begin with a boy (the ever-entitled-yet-somehow-still-cute Fred Savage) sick in bed when his grandfather (Peter Falk) visits to keep him company. Gramps reads the boy a book called The Princess Bride. The child is lukewarm at the idea, but grandpa promises “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...” Quickly we are drawn into a land of pirates and princes, where two young commoners fall madly in love. These two, Westley (the silly-moustachioed Cary Elwes) and The Princess Bride (Robin Wright) are tragically separated. Years later, when Prince Humperdinck (the perfectly smug Chris Sarandon) announces his marriage to The Princess Bride, she is kidnapped by a gang of hilarious and unique thugs. One is a giant, played exceptionally well by the André the Giant; the other is a Spaniard and master swordsman (Mandy Patinkin); their leader is an ill-tempered, over-thinking, lispey Sicilian named Vizzini (played with wonderful comedic cadence by Wallace Shawn). As they escape with the Princess, they soon discover someone slowly catching up to them, a man who wears a mysterious black mask. As we cut between the boy in bed listening to his grandfather read this fantastical tale of kidnapping, swordplay and just a tiny touch of romance, so too do we follow the daring adventure of the mysterious man in black.

 Inigo, The Man in Black (Not Johnny Cash), And Fezzik
Inigo, The Man in Black (Not Johnny Cash), And Fezzik

The Grandson: Hold it, hold it. What is this? Are you trying to trick me? Where's the sports? [suspiciously] Is this a kissing book?

Grandpa: Wait, just wait.

Before all else, The Princess Bride is a Family film, and as such there’s frequent – I dare say too frequent – moments of childish comedy. Luckily it’s not clichéd pies in the face, chases through one door and out another or slipping on banana peels, but there is the occasional roll-your-eyes-at-the-infantile-humour sting: there’s the priest who can’t pronounce ‘R’s and drives the Elmer Fudd joke into the dirt while repeating words like “mawwiage”, or the goofy banter between Miracle Max (played by the caked-on age make-upped Billy Crystal) and his witchy wife (the not-so-funnily too-shrill-shrieking Carol Kane). Clearly these moments are meant for the kids you should be watching this movie with.

But what makes The Princess Bride special, what makes it ‘1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die’ worthy is what it offers to adults. The story might look like a fairly typical princess rescue adventure plot, but the characters’ personalities and motivations, exaggerated as they are, are genuinely unique. You would normally expect a trio of kidnapping goons to be nothing more than a stepping stone in the bigger picture of the overall plot, but in The Princess Bride these men have their own motivations and backstories that take them out of the realm of people-in-the-way-of-the-finale, and advance the plot by their own right. There is no better example than that of Mandy’s Inigo Montoya, a character so well-developed that he easily elevates the film to ‘memorable’.

The Princess Bride is an original film with an overall wacky flair filled with memorable scenes, farcical character studies and quotable quotes, and, even though there’s occasional immature humour, you might even consider that a bonus if you watch it with your kids.

 Yep, that's EXACTLY what I meant by 'entitled'
Yep, that's EXACTLY what I meant by 'entitled'

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 8 Script: 7 Plot: 9 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 82% (You'll Be Married To It)

As I watched this for what must have been the third time, my lovely guest pointed out how much she enjoyed the book, then promptly lent it to me. I’ve read it and was pleasantly surprised at how much the film stuck to the original novel while still offering new twists and turns. I especially enjoyed how the book fleshed out wonderful characters even more, most notably an amusing backstory to the Turkish Giant Fezzik.

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I've always really liked this movie.  Glad your review agrees.  :-)

"...If only we had a wheelbarrow."

"Oh, we do!"

"Then why didn't you list it among our assets?"

LOL  Kills me everytime.

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