#232 – The Princess Bride (1987)

With a lower-than-last-movie score of 8.0 thanks to the malleable voting system employed by IMDb, The Princess Bride is next on our list.

While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him the story of a farmboy-turned-pirate who encounters numerous obstacles, enemies and allies in his quest to be reunited with his true love.

Perhaps thanks to my never having seen this movie as a child, I had no great nostalgia working on me as I watched this movie. Moments that were utterly bizarre and completely out of place elicited bemused laughter rather than shock – still though, it was an entertaining romp.

With a framing device that seems to serve only to explain away some of the more out-there narrative choices, The Princess Pride is a ludicrous tale that watches like a game of Dungeons and Dragons game where the Dungeon Master forgot to prepare any materials beforehand and is making everything up on the fly. “Ah yes, you come to the uh… CLIFFS OF INSANITY… and before you are… RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE… okay Inigo you have been stabbed three times, now roll to get up…”. At no point during this movie did I feel immersed in the storytelling. That said, it’s still an enjoyable look back.

“Hello Generic Medieval Set Company? I will order one (1) nondescript Castle + Thatch Houses combo.”

The movie seems to have something of an identity crisis too. It straddles this line between fantasy and fully-fledged comedy movie which makes it hard to categorise. There are moments and lines that are obviously jokes but they’re seldom funny enough to elicit a full laugh – in fact the funniest moments seem accidental, such as when Buttercup hurled herself down a steep hill after Westley, or when she just falls down a conveniently-placed cartoony pit of quicksand. And oh gosh the rodent, which is definitely just a small person in a costume. Everything is just… slightly off. I’m probably looking for too much for what is a children’s film from the 80s, the score of which is certainly due to nostalgia.

Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped!

Prince Humperdinck

I can’t say it’s not enjoyable though. There is something to be said for seeing the origin of some famous internet memes, and Carol Kane is a delight in literally anything she’s in. Wallace Shawn plays another unforgettable character, who barks “Inconceivable” at every opportunity and dies in the most predictable fashion of any character in the history of cinema – and all while sounding eerily like a certain plastic dinosaur (retroactive recognition has not been kind to this man). The fencing scenes are also very fun to watch, if only for a masterclass in Flynning which dulls all senses the more you watch it.

Westley is a very attractive man even with the mask.

Overall it’s a fun film with an inoffensive running time. I can’t say it hit the mark for me but with the compelling fantasy elements and charismatic, strong cast I can see why it became such a beloved piece of cinema. Before my verdict, I must leave you with a very… prescient quote.

Fezzik: Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid, or something like that?
Westley: Oh no. It’s just they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.

Verdict: Unless you are a child yourself or a nostalgic fan, watch it only to see what the fuss is about.


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