Rob Reiner’s THE PRINCESS BRIDE may have turned 25 this year, but it is just as funny, heart-warming and entertaining as ever. The film begins with a little boy, ill in bed, reluctantly being read a story by his grandfather (a marvellous Peter Falk). The story is of Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) and her true love Westley (Cary Elwes).
Believing Westley to be dead, Buttercup is to be married to the odious Prince Humperdinck, but she is kidnapped by devious Vizzini, Fezzik the Giant and vengeful Inigo Montoya. Pursuing them are Prince Humperdinck himself and a mysterious man in black. For the first time viewer, there are plenty of surprises even in what you might suspect to be a clichéd fairytale plot. Elwes exhibits enough charm and comic timing to stand out, even with hilarious cameos from Peter Cook and Billy Crystal, and the soundtrack is particularly good at highlighting funny moments. Andre the giant as Fezzik and Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya are particularly excellent and endearing.
… instead of the happy ending being Buttercup’s marriage to the Prince, she intends instead to commit suicide …
In recent years we have become more used to subversions of fairytales, such as SHREK or MIRROR MIRROR, which play with the traditional roles, casting the Ogre or the princess as the hero. THE PRINCESS BRIDE prefigured this in some ways – Westley is a farm boy, not a prince, and instead of the happy ending being Buttercup’s marriage to the Prince, she intends instead to commit suicide before she will submit to being Humperdinck’s wife, thereby subverting the traditional princess role. THE PRINCESS BRIDE is a film that children can enjoy but not at the expense of their parents’ entertainment. It is romantic without being sentimental (the grandson’s interruptions at any hint of kissing prevent that), accessible for children without being patronising or too sanitised, and although dated in some ways (for example the little boy’s computer game at the beginning of the film) no less enjoyable for that.