Sunday, March 31, 2013

Movie Review: The Princess Bride

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Sword fights, pirates, humor, and true love
Cons: Only if you're Humperdinck (I told you to stop saying that name!)
The Bottom Line: In all of recorded history, there are 5 movies that are rated the perfect date movie. This one leaves them all behind.

Action and romance
Melded together with laughs
Who doesn't love it?

"Have You Ever Heard of Plato?  Aristotle?  Socrates?  Morons!"

The Princess Bride is an odd little movie. I'll freely admit I didn't completely get it the first time around. But each time I have watched it since, I have absolutely loved it.

The movie opens with a sick boy (Fred Savage). His grandfather (Peter Falk) comes in and offers to read him a special story. Only because it has sports in it does the grandson agree to hear the story. But he is soon swept up into a magical story. Fortunately, we get to go along for the ride.

In a land far away lived a beautiful girl named Buttercup (Robin Wright). She enjoys tormenting the family servant Westley (Cary Elwes). Soon, they fall in love, and Westley sets off to seek his fortune in the world, promising to return for her one day.

His ship, however, is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, a man who takes no prisoners.

Five years pass, and Buttercup has agreed to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) even though she doesn't love him. On the day they announce their engagement, Buttercup is kidnapped by three evil men who intend to kill her. However, they are being followed by a man in black. Who is he? Will he rescue her? Is he even trying to rescue her?

So why didn't I get this movie the first time around? I often ask myself that, but my best guess is because the plot rambles all over the place, the scenes with the grandfather and grandson seem out of place, and the lines everyone quotes don't seem all that funny the first time around.

But on the second viewing, my opinion changed. When I wasn't trying to figure out the plot, I saw the humor in the piece. It's spoofing fairy tales. As such, it is brilliant. This isn't an in your face spoof like many of today's spoof movies. It's very subtle. You couldn't point to a scene and say it is lifted from something else. But it spoofs the types of plots from fairy tales. And the dialogue truly is funny if you give it a second chance. Some of these lines absolutely crack me up now. In fact, while trying to come up with a quote for the title, I had trouble narrowing it down from nine. And I'd already eliminated some great quotes that I thought were too long.

Yes, the plot does seem to ramble at times, especially when it suddenly produces a complication like the Fire Swamp or the Pit of Despair. But frankly, that is part of the charm. This isn't a movie about getting to the ending or even guessing the ending. It's about enjoying the ride.

And the ride is certainly enjoyable. There are sword fights, pirates, a miracle man, a giant, plots, counter plots, and R.O.U.S.'s (Rodents of Unusual Size, of course). Even while spoofing fairy tales, it takes itself seriously enough that you get caught up in the action. True, you know certain characters will make it out alive, but you've just got to know how. This really is a good date movie. It's got plenty of action for the men and a tender romance for the women.

Everything is held together by great acting. In addition to the actors I've already names, it stars the likes of Mandy Patinkin, Christopher Guest, Andre the Giant, and Wallace Shawn. And I can't leave out Billy Crystal and Carol Kane who are absolutely hysterical in their cameos.

The movie does suffer at times when they try for special effects. Let's face it, the movie is 25 years old and we've come a long way sense then. But it's easy to overlook that minor flaw.

The Princess Bride is a modern classic. Any time I find it on TV, I wind up sitting down and watching the rest. If you give it a chance (or possibly two), you'll find yourself falling in love.

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