How can one man narrow the story of the wonderful The Princess Bride into a one sentence synopsis? There is so much at play in this story that it just isn’t possible. What appears on the surface as a by the numbers romantic comedy/action/adventure film is so much more. This is one of the true gems of American cinema, and perhaps one of the most beloved films of all time. It is only one of two films I can honestly think of that is as beloved by the world as The Wizard of Oz (Star Wars and E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial are the other two).
A grandfather reads to his sick grandson the story of The Princess Bride. It is a story of true love and the obstacles that are overcome to realize that true love. Westley (Cary Elwes) and Buttercup (Robin Wright)are in love. When Westley leaves to make his fortune so he can marry Buttercup, it is believed he dies at sea. Five years later, Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) takes Buttercup to be his wife. Buttercup is then kidnapped by Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) and his subordinates, Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and Fezzik (Andre the Giant). They are pursued by a man dressed in black who proceeds to rescue Buttercup and turns out to be the long thought dead Westley. Buttercup is then taken by Prince Humperdinck and Westley is sent to be tortured to death. Inigo Montoya and Fezzik rescue Westley and together they attempt to rescue Buttercup from the clutches of the evil Prince Humperdinck.
At a scant hour and a half, The Princess Bride moves at a blinding pace. Never overstaying it’s welcome, it progresses smoothly and quickly, never giving you a chance to catch your breath or become bored by it.
Directed by Rob Reiner (Stand By Me, Misery), it is a very funny film that has every ingredient necessary to make a great film. There is a copious amount of humor, which only gets better with age, action, romance, adventure, and Andre the Giant. What more can you possibly ask for? How about R.O.U.S.’s? What is that you ask? Well, rodents of unusual size, of course!
When the film was released in the theater, I was all of 11 years old. I hadn’t fully developed my love of film yet, and at that time I was more interested in horror films. So when I was invited to see the film, I chose not to. When it was eventually released on VHS, I did finally see the film. And I didn’t like it one bit. I felt it was boring. A few years pass. I see the film again. And I still didn’t like it. It was still boring and not very funny. Some more years pass and I see the film again. This time, I kind of like it a little more, but didn’t see the fascination surrounding it.
This last Christmas, my brother handed me my Christmas gift. When I opened it, I saw The Princess Bride and Caddyshack. I have never seen Caddyshack all the way through, but have seen The Princess Bride and have never loved it. As I looked through the films I haven’t watched today, I settled on The Princess Bride since I have my 2 year old this weekend and he is at that impressionable age where he repeats EVERYTHING. So, a film with no foul language was the way to go.
And today, I have finally seen the magic of the film. It has taken 25 years or so, and multiple viewings, but I finally love The Princess Bride. Of course, my son couldn’t have given a R.O.U.S.’s ass about it. Oh, well, he will eventually see the magic and glory that is this film. I loved it and implore you to see it if you haven’t.
***1/2 out of ****