Unbelievably, Rob Reiner’s “The Princess Bride” is now old enough to have entertained at least three generations of filmgoers.
Writing in The Guardian this morning, critic Jonathan Haynes explains why the cinematic adventure of Wesley, Princess Buttercup and the inimitable Inigo Montoya ranks as his favorite movie of all time.
Here’s the nut graf:
“William Goldman’s screenplay does most of the heavy lifting (his other work includes All The President’s Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) while director Rob Reiner (of This Is Spinal Tap) gleefully throws out any attempt at realism. The sets are shoddy – rocks have rarely looked more like polystyrene than the rocks at the top of the Cliffs of Insanity, the stunts ludicrously executed – for Westley’s gymnastics while fighting Inigo the stunt double would have looked no less incongruous if dressed in a pink leotard, and the overall continuity seems wilfully absent. Never has the sky changed so much as in the short distance from the Cliffs to the Swamp. Between filming in County Clare and Derbyshire we’ve gone from summer sunshine to fake studio skies to a cold and greying autumn.”
There are so many reasons to love this movie. Among them is its pure, fairy-tale heart which is underlined with a heaping portion of Borscht Belt kitsch. If you’re an aging Xer (as I am) and you saw this in the theaters at the time of its original 1987 release, I’ll bet you dimes to donuts that there are whole sections of this movie that you can recite from memory.
To this day, my wife and I still swap lines back and forth. And any time someone utters the word “Inconceivable!” I have to suppress the urge to channel Mandy Patinkin and ask, “You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” And when one of us gets a little too lippy for the other, my bride or I will inevitably slip into the late Peter Falk’s rasp and say, “Yes, yes, you’re very clever. Now shut up.”
Ask anyone, and I’ll defy you to find someone who doesn’t think the scene in Miracle Max’s cottage isn’t one of Billy Crystal’s and Carol Kane’s finest moments on film.
And it’s still a great date movie — I don’t care how old you are. There’s just something about watching this movie with your best girl or a girl you’re hoping to impress. And that is equally true if you’re 41, with a kid and a mortgage or a dewy-eyed high- schooler on the cusp of your first love.
Read the full story here.