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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> May 2000 >> The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
4 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
May 2000
IMDB Name:
Princess Bride, The (1987)
Rob Reiner
adventure, comedy, romance
MPAA Rating:

Fairy Tales

The Princess Bride is a movie based on a fairy tale that combines many of the things that make fairy tales wondrous. True love, heroes, villains, returns from the dead, giants, Cliffs of Insanity, and even shrieking eels all make an appearance at some point. All of this is well and good, but the movie does one better by starting with a healthy bit of skepticism about fairy tales in general. The scenes between "Wonder Years" star-to-be Fred Savage and Peter Falk are nothing special on their own, but they create the right frame of mind to enjoy a good yarn. Oddly, many aspects of the yarn aren't so outrageous if you're willing to accept all of the characters at face value. If you choose to not employ that part of the brain that kills enjoyment of fairy tales, then Princess Bride is perfect.


It's easier to believe in the story behind Princess Bride than it is to believe that the cast is so uniformly wonderful. Cary Elwes is excellent in a role that calls primarily for charm, intelligence, and wit. His comic timing, later put to good use in Hot Shots and Liar Liar, is a big help. Wallace Shawn brings a grating voice and a powerful, if short presence. When we look at him from over Fezzik's shoulder, Vizzini is still somebody whose orders don't seem particularly countermandable. On the other hand, André the Giant plays Fezzik as a comparatively gentle and kind person on the inside, even if he often ends up using his size and might to hurt others. Mandy Patinkin mines the swashbuckling Inigo as much as possible, and brings a definite joy to the performance. Christopher Guest, who had previously collaborated with director Rob Reiner on Spinal Tap, plays Count Rugen with wonderful calm, providing an inhuman man to perpetrate some of the more glaring inhumanities in the story.

Many of the cameos are also delightful, including Billy Crystal, another frequent Reiner collaborator. Crystal's appearance is buried under so much makeup that I used to think the part was played by Alan Alda! Carol Kane is similarly unrecognizable, but has some great lines. Mel Smith pops in for a few scenes as the Albino. Smith went on to direct Bean, but maybe we should ignore that.

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Copyright 2000-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.