“Have fun storming the castle!”
The Princess Bride, directed by Rob Reiner (The Wolf of Wall Street, This is Spinal Tap), is a romantic comedy-adventure that’s quite unlike any other movie out there. It’s simultaneously a fairytale and a parody of a fairytale, and it excels at each. While other movies, like Shrek, have tried to walk this line, I can’t think of any that balance the two so expertly as this one.
The Princess Bride is a story, first and foremost, about love: romantic love, love of a son for his father, and even a love of a man for his newfound friends. But once all of that and the fairytale-esque setting are established, the movie evolves to show that the path from the present to the happily-ever-after is never straight or simple, and is definitely never easy. Along the way, other aspects of good adventure tales, like revenge, exploration, and daring rescues, are all present and well-executed. The plot is fun and surprising, and it does not disappoint.
Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
What truly sets The Princess Bride apart is its self-awareness and willingness to make fun of itself, and both of these seem to get better and better throughout the movie. It starts out as a campy fairytale, but quickly sets out on a slightly different trajectory, eventually going to lengths to show that it’s not a fairytale and sometimes blatantly making fun of fairytale tropes. One by one, the threads of the cord tethering this story to traditional children’s stories are severed, and the story breaks away entirely following one dramatic twist.
The humor, much like the plot, begins simply with a childlike innocence, but becomes darker and much more biting as the movie presses on. There are some cute (but funny) jokes up-front to set the tone, but there are definitely a few I-can’t-believe-they-just-did-that jokes toward the end of the movie. The dialogue and jokes are witty and smart throughout, so it’s enough to keep the adult viewer entertained throughout.
The Princess Bride is one of those rare gems that’s fun and accessible enough for most children, but smart and witty enough for most adults. It’s also a bit of a pop culture phenomenon, so it’s worth watching just for the references. At its heart, it’s still a fairytale and a bit of a goofy one at that, so that may turn some people off; but the movie still has a wide appeal and most will enjoy it. If you enjoy fairytales at all, though, this is required viewing.
Nomination: Best Music, Original Song (Willy DeVille, “Storybook Love”)
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Director: Rob Reiner
Genres: adventure, comedy, fantasy, romance