Thursday, May 8, 2008

Review - The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride
1988 Hugo Winner for Best Dramatic Presentation

A nerd on the Internet who hasn't memorized half of The Princess Bride? Inconceivable!

Google gives me seventy-five thousand hits on "You killed my father. Prepare to die."

The nerds who used to quote Monty Python moved on to quote The Princess Bride before going on to The Simpsons and Futurama.

What I'm getting at is this movie is beloved pretty much for one reason: the absolute note perfect script by William Golden. Adapting from his own novel the veteran screeenwriter of such classics as Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men created a note perfect fairy tale for this film packed with wit.

Framed as a grandfather reading his sick grandson just the good parts of a book. The Princess Bride goes on to tell a story of pirates, dramatic sword fights, giants, revenge, dramatic last minute rescues, and true love.

The acting is rather standard with a few people hamming it up, though a bit of ham is perfectly appropriate for the film. Peter Falk as the narrating grandfather is by far the best performance in the movie and he spends the majority of it off screen. The direction is pedestrian; I don't think I could point to a visible aspect of the direction that I found spectacular despite director Rob Reiner putting together a great movie on the whole. But that script is magnificent.

Which isn't to say I have real complaints about the movie. Okay, Andre the Giant's performance is a bit rough but I wouldn't have expected miracles there. And the puppets used for the occasional monsters aren't really that great but they're barely remembered in the face of the rest of the movie. And that's the closest thing I can come to complaining; it's just that the movie doesn't quite live up the quality of Goldman's script.

As I pointed out it's quoted endlessly online. And anyone who sees the film is going to remember certain classic moments for the rest of their life. In fact it's been hard to resist the siren song of just peppering this review with great quotes (I allowed myself one at the beginning but I promise that's it). The dialog zing back and forth perfectly and if it doesn't bring a smile to your face then you're most likely legally dead.

The worst part of these dramatic presentation reviews is that these are movies that are well known, well loved, and for the most part it's for a very good reason. So once again if you have not seen The Princess Bride you should watch it as soon as you can. If you don't have a copy handy just as the nearest nerd you can find, I'm sure they have one.