Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Quick Fairy Tale Of Worth: The Princess Bride!

The Good: Funny, Entertaining for all ages, Acting
The Bad: Plot is simple, Characters are all "types"
The Basics: With a great blend of humor and inventive dialog, The Princess Bride takes the tired old fairy tale formula and makes it new again.

The real magic of The Princess Bride is that it plays remarkably well for people of all ages with a fair amount of entertainment all the way around. This is a comedy that could be classified as "family entertainment" that actually succeeds in entertaining the entire family. It is funny, cute and well-told, despite the simplicity of the story.

The Princess Bride opens as a fair tale being told to a sick child by his grandfather. The tale is the typical fairy tale with an intriguing twist; none of the characters talk like they usually would in a fairy tale. So, Westley, a farm boy for Buttercup, spends his time being abused by her until she realizes that he loves her and she loves him. Far too poor to be married, Westley sets out to better himself and thus win her hand. Unfortunately, he is killed by the Dread Pirate Robert and five years later, she finds herself engaged to the nefarious Prince Humperdink. Humperdink is a war monger who wants to have Buttercup killed by what appears to be a neighboring kingdom so he has an excuse to bring his people to war there. Humperdink employs the ridiculous Vizzini and his henchmen Inigo Montoya and Fezzik. The trio of kidnapers runs into trouble when they are followed by a mysterious man in black who seems bent on recovering Buttercup and foiling their plans. The man in black turns out to be Westley and his resurfacing reignights the love he had with Buttercup in a weird race to save her life and his own and stop Humperdink's horrible plans.

Basically, this is a fair tale; man and woman fall in love, encounter obstacles and must overcome them to prove their love. There is revenge in the form of Inigo Montoya versus his mysterious six-fingered man, there is love in the form of Westley and Buttercup and there is scheming in the form of Prince Humperdink. But at the end of the day, the only thing that significantly distinguishes The Princess Bride from any other fairy tale is the dialog. The way the characters speak makes the movie a treat to watch and rewatch. For example, in most fair tales when two swordsmen square off, they hurl insults or barbs, when Westley and Inigo find themselves facing each other with foils, they spend the battle complimenting the swordsmanship of the other. Fezzik, the giant, discusses strategy while being suffocated by Westley when Westley, reluctantly must fight him. Outside his desire for making the fight as sportsmanlike as possible, Fezzik is basically a "type;" the adversary turned friend or simply, a Giant.

So while the characters are eccentric, they are essentially types: Westley a hero, Humperdink a villain, Inigo a hero seeking revenge, Count Rugen the object of Inigo's revenge who is mostly a coward, and Buttercup a would-be princess.

Why watch the movie? The dialog is truly great and funny and it stands up over multiple viewings. The acting is quite good. Seeing Mandy Patinkin on Dead Like Me and watching him as Inigo Montoya is a wonderful show of how much range he has as a great actor. Wallace Shawn - a favorite of mine - gives an incredibly ridiculous over-the-top performance as Vizzini and he steals every scene he is in.

Cary Elwes as Westley is phenomenal, escaping the bland roles he has often been condemned to since. Elwes is charismatic and has a great sense of timing in The Princess Bride. Similarly, Robin Wright performs well given the material she is given. Even Andre the Giant shines as Fezzik, bringing a strange lovable quality to the character.

It is Chris Sarandon who shines consistently in The Princess Bride. Sarandon does a great job of portraying a maniacal villain in Humperdink without ever appearing absurd. He uses a sense of timing and bearing to wonderfully convince the viewer that he could have risen to his position and station. He is quite the professional here.

Anyone will enjoy this movie and it is a worth addition to any DVD collection.

For other fantasy films, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Breaking Dawn, Part 1
The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy


For other movie reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2012, 2005 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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