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November 3, 2008 |

By Dustin Rowles | PaEHba Day | November 3, 2008 |

I may have set myself something of an impossible task — how do you come up with a fresh take on a movie so beloved that most people on this site know the entire thing by heart? Princess Bride is one of those rare movies that appeals to almost everyone. It’s a romance movie with just enough swashbuckling that men (and less than girly-girls like yours truly) don’t feel silly proclaiming their love for it, and it’s a fantasy that somehow escaped the general disdain for the genre. The funny thing is, it really shouldn’t work at all; it’s cheesy and over-the-top, most of the characters are downright cartoonish, and there are plot holes big enough for Fezzik to walk through (How is it Westley knows that Buttercup’s been abducted and just happens to be around to rescue her? Admit it, you don’t care.), and yet its flaws somehow just add to the overall charm. It’s ridiculously wonderful, in part, because it’s ridiculous.

There are a million things to love about Princess Bride, but at its heart this is a love story, and I’d argue that the main reason Princess Bride is so universally enjoyed is that it’s a perfect romance. It makes you feel all squishy and happy without also making you feel like a sap. Ironically, the scenes between Buttercup and Westley are relatively few — they spend most of the movie separated. Actually, this may be part of the appeal — you never really have a chance to get sick of the two of them together, and what scenes there are, are just enough to establish the characters and their relationship. To be honest, I can sympathize with the little kid’s disgust at the early romance elements of the story, and it’s a good thing that the back story is glossed over rather quickly so we can get on to the pirates and intrigue and shrieking eels and stuff. Young Buttercup and Westley are as bland as sugar-free vanilla pudding. It’s only after they’ve gone through a few years of hardship (mostly off-screen) that the characters develop into people that you really care about. Thankfully, Buttercup transforms from a spoiled and selfish brat to a brave, strong, somewhat volatile woman, and Westley changes from a quiet, obedient (albeit hot) farmboy to the perfect romantic lead — heroic, intelligent, and more than a little dangerous. Though I’ve seen this movie about a bazillion times, I still find myself sitting on the edge of my seat, giddy and tense with anticipation at the scene where a still-disguised Westley, stung by Buttercup’s apparent willingness to marry another man, goads her into revealing her true feelings. (And then she pushes him into a ravine. Seriously, how can you not love this movie?) This is easily my favorite scene in the film — possibly in all of romancelandia. Westley’s anger at Buttercup’s betrothal and Buttercup’s matching fury over the (supposed) loss of her beloved beautifully demonstrate the intensity of these characters’ feelings for each other without getting all gooey on us. This one little scene establishes everything you really need to know about these two to make you root for them.

Of course, leavening the romance with humor and adventure doesn’t hurt, and nobody would argue that this film would be as enjoyable without the wonderfully fleshed out secondary characters and witty, eminently quotable dialogue. It’s impossible not to love Fezzik and Inigo, and Prince Humperdinck is a perfect cowardly villain (Is it just me or does Chris Sarandon not get nearly enough work?). Nearly every scene is hilarious, and even the smallest parts are made memorable. I doubt there’s a single character with a speaking role who doesn’t have at least one quotable line. But no fairy tale is complete without true love and a happily-ever-after, and Princess Bride delivers this with more style and humor than any other movie out there. No wonder we all love it.

Hello. I Am Paheeba.

Princess Bride / spisaster

PaEHba Day | November 3, 2008 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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