“Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”
The Princess Bride is actually a ridiculously hard film to review, for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a cult classic. As Bulgarian Friend observes, it seems to have been created for the express purpose of providing a generation with such gems as
Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
It’s one of those films that everyone has seen, and everyone quotes, and everyone knows. And if you don’t, why not?
Second, it’s unclear what its purpose actually is. If it’s entirely in earnest – if it’s really and truly meant solely to be the story of Westley and Buttercup, the lovers fighting to find their way to each other against princes and giants – then it really is the most singularly awful film in the world. It has terrible stop-motion animation, an irredeemably cheesy plot, and, come on, one of the characters is called Buttercup. Buttercup.
But, if it’s intended as a parody, or just as highly ironic, then it’s really quite funny. If, when I say “parody”, you’re thinking of the Scary Movie franchise, then don’t, because the Scary Movies are just silly and, crucially, don’t make sense when considered for plot only. The basic plot of The Princess Bride works, more or less, as a fairytale on its own merit. The parody comes in the delivery, and the clever lines (“Have fun storming the castle!”), and the little moments that everyone remembers like the sword-fight scene on the Cliffs of Insanity:
“There’s something I should tell you. I’m not left-handed.”
“Oh, there’s something I forgot to tell you. I’m not left-handed either.”
Obviously, that’s nowhere near as hilarious as it actually is in the film. But you get the idea.
Writing down all the moments that I loved about The Princess Bride would probably take the next hour. Such a list would doubtlessly be enormously boring for you, so I’ll just leave you with this, which is straight from the original novel and, delightfully, quoted in the film as well:
You can’t hurt me. Westley and I are joined by the bonds of love. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds, and you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords.
Cheesy, yes, but beautifully written. And isn’t that what we look for in tales of True Love and High Adventure?