The Princess Bride (1987)
It's as real as the feelings you feel
My sister got married just last weekend, so I decided to use it as an excuse to break out another one of the "old guns" for this week. Even if you haven't seen it, I wouldn't be surprised if you've heard someone quoting it and just not known what they where on about. The real question isn't if this is a good movie - of that I'll go into detail later - but does it hold up well enough that it would still be a good movie for a newer generation. I'd argue that it should just fine, but at the same time if you look at some modern movie goers surely a little resistance wouldn't be Inconceivable!
Our entire story proper is actually just that - a story. You see, a kid is sick, and his grandpa comes over to read him a story that his dad read to him, and he in turn read to the kids dad (and since the kid's dad is missing from the movie), and the grandpa now plans to read to his grand-kid. It's a story of romance, of revenge, of action and pirates and miracles. Throughout the story, our kid will interrupt with outbursts about various things that we legitimately would have had outbursts about - "Ewwww, kissing!" and the likes. It's of note that these events go on, and it serves as a great example of the power inherent in books and the imagination of kids, but for keeping this tidy I won't mention it outside of here - just keep in mind he will chime in and add a bit of that 'real world' feel here and there.
Our main story, however, focuses on a young lady and her farm boy. Over time, they fall in love with each other, but being a poor farm boy he decides to set off across the sea and make his fortune with the promise of returning for his love. A small hitch appears in his plan when his boat comes across the ship of the Dread Pirate Roberts - who is known for leaving no prisoners - and he is assumed dead. Heartbroken, she spends some time wallowing in her grief before a prince comes buy and finds her one day, deciding to use his right to marry her despite her lack of feelings for him. The only thing she can find solace in are her daily rides - one of which is interrupted by a trio of strange men who kidnap her. Their kidnapping doesn't go quite as planned however, and it isn't long before they notice a boat that seems to be following theirs. Every step of the way, this mysterious individual seems to be right behind them, slowly besting each of them one on one - be it through steel, strength, or wits. The princess doesn't like the idea of being captured yet again after being captured, and after a brief struggle and throwing him down a large hill she discovers that it is in fact not a pirate, but her farm boy lover somehow alive.
Of course, the prince arrives at this point to spoil things, so the two run off into a nearby fabled swamp of dangerous surprises to try and elude him - jets of fire, quick sand, and some very, very large rodents. After passing all of the trials the swamp has to offer, they exit only to be headed off at the pass. It's here a bargain is struck by the princess, trading the safety of her loved one for marriage to the prince - who of course betrays his word and sends the farm boy to the torture pits without the princess' knowing. That's not the worst of it however, as after continual nightmares she informs the prince that she would rather commit suicide than marry him - and he strikes a bargain that he'll "send out his fastest ships" to try and meet up with the ship of her lover, and if he wants her then they can be together. What she doesn't realize is that the prince is the original person who plotted to have her killed by the kidnappers, and having had that plan foiled he know has come up with a new plan to kill her off! Will our hero break free? Can the princess be saved? Will the man seeking revenge for his father's death show up again?
So let me just get this off my chest - of all the movies I've seen, assuredly some of which have indeed been romance flicks since I'll try watching anything once, this is by far the top of the list as far as romance movies go. That being said, it's not exactly the most solid example of a strong relationship unless your looking for the unbridled drive to get over each others flaws because of 'true love' being such a powerful thing. In a way though, that's part of why it's so easily likable - it's just so simple. Boy loves girl, girl loves boy, and regardless of stupid things that happen to them, they still want nothing more than to be with each other. The fact that we do have these other little subplots in there - the plotting of the prince, the revenge of the Spaniard, the story behind the Pirate Roberts - just means that if you were to drag your proverbial guy into watching a romance flick, he doesn't have to get caught up in in all the "lame, boring" bits he would normally complain about.
Part of why it works so well is the characters. I'm not going to say the acting is across the board stellar or anything, but the characters themselves are all just fun - with most providing a quip at one point or another that you'll inevitably be looking for a chance to remark to a friend later on. The kidnapping trio each has their own personalities - and two of which we re-meet later on in the movie. Of those three, only the Spaniard could really be considered to have his own plot-line running in tandem with the rest, as his quest for revenge usually just means his giant friend is tagging along as opposed to actively seeking things. They each end up feeling like a unique person in the midst of things - even those who feel like they are just there to support others. If anything could be complained about, with the current state of modern women I'm sure they could find all sorts of things to complain about our Princess. Back in the 80's though, people were okay with women being in a role that didn't demand they be the strongest character - I mean, heck, some were complaining about Black Widow's character for crying out loud!
Effects work can be a little dated at times - I'm looking at you, dude-in-a-suit giant rat. That being sad, they never strike a point where they are so incredibly bad that it hurts, and choreography where it's needed ends up being very fun to watch. Audio balance is great, and as previously noted a large collection of lines will be added to the quotable repertoire for those who like it - including "Alo! My Name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die!", "As you wish," and the "Inconceivable!" Music isn't particularly anything that will stick with you necessarily - mostly all orchestral pieces that do a fine job adding to the mood.
So yes, I'd recommend everyone take a watch of this one, even if you aren't a huge romance person. It's a feel good movie, with plenty of humor and action, romance and revenge to keep a person enjoying it through out it's runtime. The story itself even holds up pretty well for modern viewings - yeah, some of the effects or characters might be a bit dated, but not everything needs to constantly be modernized in order to still be far-reaching amongst it's audience. There isn't anything that should be too scary for kids (although one should always pre-watch things just to make sure), it isn't so outlandishly sappy that it will drive off the guys, and it isn't so slaughterhouse action heavy that it'll drive off the ladies. It's not the perfect movie, and everyone will have their own tastes for sure, but I feel this is one that almost anyone can enjoy.