Part swashbuckling adventure, part tongue-in-cheek parody, The Princess Bride is a fairy tale with a comic edge.
The story begins when a gravel-voiced Grandpa (Columbo‘s Peter Falk) offers to read a book to his Grandson, who is bedridden with the flu.
The boy (Fred Savage from The Wonder Years) initially resists, but Grandpa wins him over with promises of monsters and giants, capture, escape and revenge, duelling swordplay . . . and screaming eels.
Beautiful Buttercup (Robin Wright, pre-Penn hyphenation) falls in love with a farm boy, Westley (Cary Elwes), only for Westley to be lost at sea while seeking his fortune.
News reaches Buttercup that her one true love has perished at the hand of the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Buttercup is duly seized by the wicked Prince Humperdinck (Sarandon) – the ruler-in-waiting of the kingdom of Florin – who intends to make her his bride.
And so ensues a fantastical journey with rhyming giants, an embittered (and Jewish) miracle man (“you rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles!”) and an extraordinary swordsman out to avenge his dead father (“My name is Iñigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”).
Thrilling, romantic, but never too serious, The Princess Bride is a movie any child can understand but only an adult can fully appreciate. When the mood turns too mushy, the Grandson is always there to interrupt and get things back on track.
Blessed with more funny lines and moments than any film deserves, the movie was scripted by William Goldman from his own original novel.
With a cast as diverse as Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright and Peter Falk – plus numerous famous character actors hamming gleefully around the fantasy landscape of Guilder and Florin, climbing the cliffs of insanity and braving the fire swamp – this movie takes nothing seriously.
Cary Elwes is superb as Wesley as he negotiates ROU’s (rodents of unusual size), six-fingered men, and even death (mostly) to be reunited with his soulmate.
The movie has been embedded into modern popular culture (via shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy) and is arguably one of the most quoted films of all time.
And Director Rob Reiner proves once and for all that he can do more than coax Meg Ryan to an orgasmic climax.
Andre the Giant