One day as I walked up and down the aisles of Newbury Comics, I saw The Princess Bride on the shelf with a pink sticker that had “$4.99” written on it. I had been quoting the movie nonstop in my high school hallways since around my very first time watching it, even acting like Wallace Shawn’s Vizzini on occasion. My dad looked so confused when I went to go buy it. “You’re buying a Princess movie?” he asked me, as the cashier laughed. Later that night, I proved how wrong he was to judge so quickly.
The Princess Bride is based on a novel of the same name by William Goldman. The film’s opening scene, in which Goldman’s book is read to a young boy (Fred Savage) by his grandfather (Peter Falk), is personal for Reiner; he himself was gifted the book as a child by his father. The feeling that the boy has when told the title is how I felt when I was a child, hence why I never watched until I was in high school. It’s relatable for Reiner and the audience. Over the years, many people have had the same love for the film. The characters are memorable upon their first introductions. Buttercup (Robin Wright) and Westley (Cary Elwes) start out as typical star-crossed lovers, but through their excellent performances, they become so much more. Elwes’s charming personality and his infectious charisma are what come to mind when I think of Westley. I admire how he doesn’t fall ill to stereotypes, such as blindly making decisions for the benefit of his love. He does think of Buttercup while saving her, but also takes note of his own safety, benefits, friends, and other areas of danger. He’s a man who has built himself up from a nobody to a feared Man in Black. Buttercup is a great character as well, becoming more than the damsel in distress. She is in dire circumstances, but she tries her best to stand up for herself against others. She’s the princess we want to root for as we follow the journey with more memorable characters. Whether it be Inigo Montoya, Vizinni, Humperdinck, or Fezzik, there is not one bad performance here. Billy Crystal and Carol Kane are gut-bustingly hysterical for every minute of their one scene.
As with any good story, the audience needs to be along for the ride. They need to be invested in the world, struggle, and love that is brought to life. Reiner’s goal was to not only create another ’80s fantasy film. He wanted to make people laugh out loud, cheer for the princess, and want to come back to experience it all over again. I’ve seen the film upwards of a dozen times. Each time brings more laughter, and I still appreciate it as much as I did the first time. It’s a spectacle rich with excellent music and wonderful people.
The Princess Bride
dir. Rob Reiner
Screens Wednesday, 2/14, 7:30 PM @ MFA, AND 10:00 PM @ Brattle!