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The Princess Bride
1987 - PG - Mins.
Director: Rob Reiner
Producer: Arnold Scheinman, Rob Reiner
Written By: William Goldman
Starring: Cary Elwes, Peter Falk, Mandy Patinkin, Carol Kane, Billy Crystal
Review by: John Ulmer
I still remember the tape. It was an old, late 80s/early 90s video cassette with six hours on lowest quality. The film was recorded on the lowest quality and it was grainy. It had been filmed during the weekend on a public television station and had commercial intervals at various parts. Sometimes the commercials started, and were cut off, and then when the film had come back on TV the tape started recording again. I watched that tape an uncountable number of times, just wearing the already low-quality tape to the ground. But I couldn't help it - I loved the movie.

And then sometime in 2001 or 2002 I finally purchased "The Princess Bride" on DVD, and got to see it in all its splendor, with a fine transfer and theatrical aspect ratio. But I never forgot that old tape - I still have it buried somewhere under a bunch of "Saturday Night Live" recordings, which are sitting in a cabinet somewhere.

The point of my little tale is that a film like "The Princess Bride" is so (re)watchable that even horrible quality transfer cannot ruin it. It's like a moth to a light - it's irresistable. In this case, it is irresistably funny.

I've been quoted as saying that "The Princes Bride" is the "Shrek" of the eighties, and if I do say so myself, that little statement is true. It's an unconventional fairy tale story, with adventure for children and adventure and humor for adults, who will probably like it more than their children (though don't quote me on that, kids might love it, too). There are little lines like, "Do you want me to take you back to where I found you? Unemployed - in Greenland!", and these little lines are those that make the movie what it is, along with lovable, catchy characters and rollicking, swashbucklin' good fun that everyone - even those devoid of humor - can appreciate and enjoy.

The story begins in modern day, with a child ("The Wonder Year's" Fred Savage), sick in bed, playing a videogame, when his half-blind old grandfather (Peter Falk, who is amazingly still alive to this day) walks through his door. He has brought him a gift: A book. "A book?" the child asks sarcastically. The grandfather answers, "When I was your age, books were TV!"

The magic of the book is that it captures the young child's imagination, and it reminds the grandfather of the first time he read it as as child. The magic of the book for audiences is that it shows a hilariously unconventional glance towards fairy tales and sweeping, swashbuckling epics.

The story within a story starts with Buttercup (Robin Wright [Penn]), who falls in love with a farm boy named Westley (Cary Elwes). After Westley goes off to the seas and is murdered by the Dread Pirate Roberts, Buttercup vowes never to love again.

Flash forward a few years and she's married to Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon), a snotty prince who plans on murdering his bride-to-be and blaming it on a close kingdom to start a war. To help him carry out his mission, he employs Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a short man who likes to say "Inconceivable!" a lot. Vizzini has two henchmen who do not wish to kill anyone: Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and a giant (Andre the Giant).

Before her marriage, Buttercup realizes that Westley is still very much alive, and he rescues her from her doom. But that is only the beginning of their quest for true love.

Cameos range from Billy Crystal to Carol Kane, and the laughs never cease. This is the type of film that will always be cherished. It has solid direction from Rob Reiner, a great, snappy, witty and smart script by William Goldman (based on his children's book), and a talented cast who understand how the material should be presented on the screen. "The Princess Bride" is a great movie that will please audiences of all ages. This is great filmmaking at its best.
Movie Guru Rating
A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic.
  5 out of 5 stars

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