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The Princess Bride

Like the boy in the film, my grandfather read/told fantastical stories to me as a child. There are few memories in the world that I treasure more, and the experience of that childlike wonder is something that could never be matched by any other feeling in the world. It's these feelings and stories that The Princess Bride touches upon, providing an escape to those simpler and overtly-dramatic tales of fantasy and adventure. Unlike director Rob Reiner's This Is Spinal Tap though, The Princess Bride has an affable affection for its subject matter. The film does poke fun at the sillier aspects of the "old stories", but there's an appreciation for that campiness in The Princess Bride.

In the film, we follow a grandfather reading a fantastical book to his grandson, the latter of which isn't interested in "fairy tales" or "kissing books". This story, in turn, follows two young lovers - Westley and Buttercup - who are torn apart by the tides of fate. Thinking Westley to be dead, Buttercup agrees to marry the loathsome Prince Humperdinck, so that he may inherit the throne to the kingdom. However, as these stories often go, it's revealed that Westley's been alive for years, living under the title of the Dread Pirate Roberts. Before Westley can go to confront Buttercup, she's kidnapped by a group of bandits that look to seize a ransom from the capture. The story unfolds from this point in a graceful manner of storytelling that's both comedic and charming.

The film's characters and charm are what make The Princess Bride as enjoyable as it is. From the dashing hero Westley to the humorous supporting characters, the entire cast of characters fits into this story incredibly smoothly. There aren't any superfluous people as each plays a role, small or large, in this tongue-in-cheek fairy tale. The characters may be archetypes, but these are the essential components of legends, fairy tales, and myths. They don't have to be original to likable, and the characters in this film are certainly very charming.

The visuals themselves have a charming look to them, thanks to the film's dream-like cinematography. The soft look of the film only increases the allure of the fairy tale, making it so that the film feels just as dream-like and sweet as a great childhood memory or story. I'm not saying that the film's childish, but both children and adults can get something out of The Princess Bride. While the children will be dazzled by the soft-looking dreamworld, the adults can point out the sly jokes and get a laugh while traveling down lanes of nostalgia.

Speaking of the film's humor, the style is very, very wry. Don't expect to be bursting into laughter, as the film's more subtle than anything else in this aspect. Poking fun at the tropes of the typical fairy tale, the film gets these jokes through via quick lines of dialogue or through the use of physical humor. Not exactly hysterical, but it's not meant to be a gut-busting comedy either.

The film does, however, have some hitches in its execution. For the first part, the film gets very cluttered around the second act of the film. Instead of focusing on a single group or individual, the film switches back and forth between multiple people, narratives, and themes. It's nice to see the film focusing on other characters, but the constant switching leads to each of the narratives being not as fleshed out as they could be. Not only that, but the film suffers from what many films in the '80's did, and that's the presence of a cheesy synthesizer in the score. It may have been added intentionally, but its presence doesn't serve to aid the tongue-in-cheek humor of the film at all. In other words, the synthesizer's completely useless.

Though The Princess Bride has some hitches in its frame, it's an otherwise great film. Stirring together elements of fantasy, adventure, romance, and comedy, the film is a charming and nostalgic look back at the stories that virtually all children grew up with.





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