“The Princess Bride” is a beloved film that has aged well but not perfectly.
“The Princess Bride” turns 35 this year, so I want to take a pause from the blockbusters and revisit this classic. Looking back at the films of our childhood can be a dangerous game. Nostalgia brings you in only for some extremely insensitive and cringey jokes that ruin the whole experience. Luckily, aside from an awkward and idle threat of backhanding a woman, there is little of that in “The Princess Bride.”
The first thing I noticed was just how sped up this movie feels when compared to modern cinema. The romance that sets up the plot of the film is explained by a narrator at a lightning-fast pace, followed by a five-year time jump with Buttercup being engaged to another man. Before you can even breathe, she is kidnapped to kick off the main story.
This dizzying pace at times leads to plot holes, like Inigo seemingly knowing everything about Westley even though their only conversation together was about fencing. Ultimately though, the movie is not asking you to look at it with a fine-toothed comb. Just accept that things slipped through the cracks and move on. The experience will be more enjoyable.
Part of why “The Princess Bride” is so comforting is the constant use of dry wit and comradery. I found myself smiling every time Inigo and Fezzik talked in rhymes to each other. Westley’s quick wit brings life into all of his scenes, even the ones where his life is being sucked out with suction cups.
This is a testament to the actors/actresses involved. Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin deliver the best performances of their careers as Westley and Inigo, respectively. Andre the Giant, a WWE legend, is perfect as a lovable giant who brings everyone together. Christopher Guest provides a comedically chilling performance as the dastardly Count Rugen. Peter Falk assumes the role of narrator with a raspy, yet charming, accent that transports you to Wrigley Field and puts a hot dog with peppers on it in your hand.
One thing wrong with “The Princess Bride” is that it is entirely dominated by men. Buttercup, played by Robin Wright, is static and serious. She rarely gets her place in the spotlight and the only scene with her and another woman is a dream sequence where she is booed and insulted by “the ancient booer.” Valerie Kane gets a bit part as well, and kills it, but those are the only women in the movie with lines. On a positive note, while there is a lack of women, there are thankfully no sexist jokes made at their expense. For a movie made in the 1980s, or really in any of the previous three decades, it is surprising.
Another issue is that there are no people of color in “The Princess Bride.” While it may be easy to hide behind the idea that it is based on Western Europe during medieval times, I don’t buy it. They use fake country names which means they made a choice to create a world where white supremacy still exists. The 1980s were a different time where this choice was more acceptable, but this decision certainly hasn’t aged well.
“The Princess Bride” is truly an enjoyable movie that has stood the test of time. This is not a movie that you should overanalyze, like I just did, because it is not full proof. The plot is at warp speed and there are only three women who talk, but this isn’t enough to sink the film. The relationships are all endearing and the jokes all land. The set design and scenery are incredible and work to support the characters, whose performances range from good to excellent. If you need a break from the end of quarter grind, this film is sure to bring a smile to your face.
Star Rating: 4.5\5
[“The Princess Bride” is available to stream on Hulu and Disney+]