Rob Reiner’s 1987 cult classic
The Princess Bride turns 30 today
Rob Reiner’s 1987 wonderfully fun cult classic “The Princess Bride” is one of those rare satiric gems, like “The Court Jester” and “Galaxy Quest”, that doesn’t just send up a genre, but honors it at the same time, giving us the enthusiasm and joy of the real thing as well as the laughs of a comedy. Adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name, “The Princess Bride” makes it clear that life isn’t always just a bowl of roses, and the good guys often have a difficult time despite their noble ideals. Based on a story he created for his two daughters in response to competing requests for a story about either “princesses” or “brides.” The resulting tale, though, works just as well for romance-averse young boys. It opens as Peter Falk begins to read to his young grandson, bedridden with the flu, a tale set in medieval times. The boy, who prefers computer games, is less than thrilled. “Is this a kissing book?” he demands. Grandfather reassures him with promises of monsters, mayhem and chase scenes. The colorful cast of characters includes Robin Wright as Buttercup, a beautiful maiden who believes in true love; Cary Elwes as Westley, a young man who has mastered the art of survival in a world of dirty-dealers; Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, a skilled swordsman seeking to avenge the death of his father; Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck, a nefarious prince who thinks only of himself; Christopher Guest as Count Tyrone Rugen, an evil count; Andre the Giant as a lovable lug; and Billy Crystal as Miracle Max, a faith healer who revives a dying Westley with bellows and a chocolate-coated pill then wishes him good luck with a breezy “Have fun storming the castle.” It may sound like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but the parody is never that brash. The characters really believe in their mission. If they didn’t believe, the young boy wouldn’t either. As a good fairy tale should, “The Princess Bride” teaches but never preaches. It’s a lively, fun-loving, but nevertheless epic look at the nature of true love. And, of course, that means living happily ever after.
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