Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: October 9, 1987
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Genre: Comedy, Musical
Stars: 4 out of 5
Since its release in 1987, “The Princess Bride” has become a cult classic. Starring Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, and Robin Wright, the movie offers a new twist on classic fairy-tale tropes and archetypes. For lovers of fantasy, fiction, and outrageous antics, “The Princess Bride” is sure to please.
The story opens on a grandfather (Peter Falk) and his grandson (Fred Savage). The grandfather is reading a story to the grandson; the story, of course, is “The Princess Bride.” The reading of the story serves as the narration for the film, and viewers see the pair again periodically as the story progresses.
As his sick grandson listens, the grandfather tells the story of a beautiful young woman named Buttercup (Robin Wright). She loves a man named Westley (Cary Elwes) and plans to marry him, but after he has a run-in with the Dread Pirate Roberts during a fortune-finding expedition, Buttercup assumes that he is dead.
Years later, the young woman is engaged to the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) when she is kidnapped by a trio of outlaws. Pursued by multiple enemies, the four embark on an exciting adventure that involves lightning sand, fire spouts, and betrayal. Multiple plot twists keep viewers engaged-and naturally, the film concludes with a happy ending.
Based on the book of the same name by William Goldman, “The Princess Bride” is a delightful, smart parody of traditional fairy-tale movies. Goldman adapted his novel for the screen. This tongue-in-cheek romp takes all of the most popular elements of time-honored stories, such as damsels in distress and swashbuckling adventurers, and bumps them up to the next level.
On the surface, “The Princess Bride” looks like any other fantasy story of its time. With its sweeping panoramas, dashing gentlemen, and evil villains, the film lulls audiences into believing that they are watching a traditional romance-and then the humor starts. The jokes come fast and furious, one after another, and director Rob Reiner uses his impeccable eye to create the ideal setting for each one. His particular skill as a director comes through in the timing of the comedic moments; they never go on too long, and audiences have just enough time to recover from one laugh before the next one sets in.
The humor in “The Princess Bride” is decidedly skewed, which adds to its quirky feeling. Nothing about the movie is mainstream, from the screaming eels to the rodents of unusual size. The unusual humor has played a significant part in the movie’s rise to cult status and lends itself well to parodies and inside jokes among fans.
Throughout “The Princess Bride,” viewers have the opportunity to meet a large cast of supporting characters. Each new person is outrageous and comical, which keeps the story from slowing down. Two standouts are Billy Crystal and Carol Kane as a wizard and a witch, both unrecognizable behind costumes and makeup.
The lead actors give admirable performances all around, from the sweet Robin Wright to the towering Andre the giant. As the dashing Westley, Cary Elwes is a particular standout. He is the perfect mix of handsome leading man and devious love interest-and he demonstrates a remarkable skill with physical comedy.
“The Princess Bride” is packed to the brim with quotable lines, many of which have worked their way into popular culture. As the inimitable Inigo Montoya, Mandy Patinkin utters one of the most famous lines of the movie: “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father. Prepare to die!” Near the end of the film, another memorable moment comes during the inevitable marriage ceremony, when Peter Cook-playing a bishop with a speech impediment-says, “Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togever today. Wuv, twue wuv…”
For all of its outrageous stunts and dramatic swordfights, the heart of “The Princess Bride” is love. Throughout the film, love prevails, whether it is the love between friends or the love between soulmates. A few close calls occur and it may seem that love is lost forever-but in the style of true fairy tales, everything is wrapped up nicely in the end and the lovers are reunited.
Overall, “The Princess Bride” is an ideal movie for the whole family. Some of the characters’ lines hint at adult humor, but most of it is subtle enough to go over the heads of younger children. With its constant action, skillful humor, and distinctly unique style, “The Princess Bride” is an excellent choice for any occasion.