The Princess Bride

the princess bride 1987

The Princess Bride [1987] is difficult to put into words.  The story centers on a grandfather reading to his sick grandson a tale of revenge, action, fear and true love.  But the story is so much more than just that.  It is a love letter to fantasy themes.  As the story progresses we are hit with Princess Buttercup’s (Robin Wright) struggling love,  Westley’s (Cary Elwes) witty wordplay, and Inigo Montoya’s (Mandy Patinkin) desperation that all have become committed to memory.  But throw in more than a few scoops of quirky and tacky comedic tropes and you have Rob Reiner’s nostalgic masterpiece.

Not Another Kissing Movie:  Who can remember being young and your parents sitting you in front of the VHS player and making you watch The Princess Bride?  Remember feeling just like the grandson in the opening scenes of the story when Buttercup and Westley embrace and we feel the dark cloud of gooey love sweeping over us?  Well, that is how Rob Reiner delivers the audience right into the movie without us really knowing.  Because just like the grandson, we are stuck in this story.  But luckily, just as the grandson is fortunate enough to experience, the story unfolds into much more than just a kissing movie.  The first act of The Princess Bride is complete with love (which at this moment we do not care about, gross), an incredibly entertaining fencing match, witty dialogue accompanied by some hand to hand combat and then, of course, a test of intelligence that leaves one genius on his back.  There is no doubt that, just like the grandson, we are captured in this developing story and seeming to inch further away from just another kissing movie.

An 80s Movie for the 50s:  The settings for this movie are so under budget it hurts at times.  But that’s the point, right?  The boats in the distance are little toys in a tub.  The “boulders” are paper mache.  The RUSs (rodents of unusual size) in the fire swamps take the cake for best/worst body costume ever.  These are all nice throwbacks to an age where studios made an entire film in one room using props from the film next door.  But of course, it has that old charm you would expect in a black and white adventure from that era.

So Cheesy It Hurts:  Now this movie is great as an old treasure.  You can watch it over and over again and long as you are alone.  But once you show this movie to friends who did not grow up with this fantastic tale, you fall to the numbing realization that The Princess Bride takes its corny and cheesy nature to an almost uncomfortable level.  A sense of embarrassment engulfs you as you watch the unfamiliar audience around you cringe at the old school gimmicks and jokes.  So just watch it alone or with someone as goofy as yourself.

Ridiculousness mixed in with throwback charm and wit make The Princess Bride both an individual classic but a shaky revisit with company.