Directed by Rob Reiner
Written by William Goldman
Cast: Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant, and Christopher Guest.
Length: 1 hour and 38 minutes
Genre: Adventure, family, fantasy
MPAA Rating: PG
Description from IMDB:
“While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride.”
When an elderly man (Peter Falk) decides to visit his sick grandson (Fred Savage), he brings along a book called The Princess Bride in an attempt to pull the child’s eyes away from the television for a while. The book’s story follows two star-crossed lovers named Buttercup (Robin Wright) and Westley (Cary Elwes); when Westley leaves to seek his fortune and is feared dead, Buttercup is chosen as the future wife of the ambitious Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon). Though she does not love the man, she goes along until she is captured by three mercenaries hired to start a war. While on the run, they are tracked down by a mysterious marauder clad in all black who, it turns out, is there to save Buttercup.
The most appealing aspect of The Princess Bride (1987) is found in its characters. Westley has to fight the three mercenaries and is able to do so despite their apparent skill, and two of whom become his comrades when rescuing Buttercup later in the film. Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) is the leader of the trio and is bested by Westley in a duel of wits; he is accompanied by Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), a master swordsman, and the giant Fezzik (Andre the Giant). The latter characters have their own arcs as Inigo has been seeking a six-fingered man who killed his father when he was a boy that turns out to be Humperdink’s enforcer, Count Rugen (Christopher Guest). Fezzik is constantly blamed by Vezzini for messing things up, and is able to help his friends when the time comes. Westley is the typical dashing hero, and Buttercup holds her own; though she becomes the love-struck girl again when reunited with Westley.
Much of the comedy of the film comes through the dialogue of the characters. There is witty banter galore in The Princess Bride (1987), and much of it supplants the seriousness of most classic fairy tales. When Westley and Inigo first meet, they abide by a code of honor with the latter allowing the former to rest after climbing the Cliffs of Insanity. What follows is probably the most polite sword fight in cinematic history, with both combatants complimenting each other’s skill. Inigo also makes a comment about wondering if Westley’s ship is “using the same wind as us” when it is gaining on the three mercenaries. These small quips make the characters more likeable and add to the comedic effect of the film which sets it apart from other fantasy movies.
An interesting aspect of The Princess Bride is that it tells a story within a story, and both contain character growth. The characters in the book, as mentioned above, have their own arcs, but the grandfather and his grandson also go through a change by the end of the film. The child is playing video games and surrounded by toys when he is interrupted and told that his grandfather will be coming in to see him. He is visibly deflated and falls to further depths of disappointment when he is told that they will be reading a story from a book (gross!). As the film goes on and shows Buttercup and Westley’s adventures, it is intermittently interrupted by the grandson and grandfather; this first happens when the boy asks with disgust if this is a “kissing book”, again when he is more invested in the story while still trying to act as though he isn’t, and a few more times as he finally gives in to the power of the tale. By the end of the film, the boy wants to have it read to him again the next day, which would be surprising to hear from him at the beginning.
The Princess Bride (1987) is a film that is looked at with pop culture nostalgia. It features some of the most popular actors of the era brought together to tell an entertaining story that has adventure, danger, and comedy. I can’t speak for it as an adaptation as I have never read the book, but the script was written by the author and this is a case where the film stands on its own as a piece of entertainment. There are so many one-liners and quotes that have made it into the popular vernacular that The Princess Bride (1987) remains of the most influential films of its time. If anyone asks you to watch with them, there is only one appropriate response: as you wish.
Verdict: 4 family friendly fantasy flicks out of 5
Recommended for: Those who like the word “inconceivable”, fans of witty banter, those who like baby Fred Savage, and families looking for a funny movie to watch.
Not recommended for: Those who have a difficult time understanding Andre the Giant, those who dislike baby Fred Savage, Kevin Malone from The Office, people who think this is a Mel Brooks movie, or those who dislike cheesy humor and wordplay.