image credit: 20th Century Fox

The Princess Bride (1987) *****

You know the “how often do men think about the Roman Empire?” meme that used to go around? Well, for me, it might as well be The Princess Bride. I think about it constantly. A lot of the time I’m thinking about the book, actually, which is a wonderful ironic read that zoomed straight over my head as a kid, but has a lot of great imagery in it. Naturally the book characters look like the movie actors, who were, in my childhood esteem, probably the most famous actors in the entire world. To be clear, I was an age where 11-year-old Fred Savage looked grown up to me, maybe like a teenager, so I must have been very wee trying to navigate this meta masterpiece.

Humans aren’t even capable of abstract thought until adolescence, which means the exquisite sarcasm of The Princess Bride formed my base wiring by first confusing me and then leaving me smitten. No wonder I remain obsessed thirtywhatever years later. God, this movie is my entire gender identity, my sexual orientation, my mascot, my master, my mommy. It is everything.

I married a Westley type who would absolutely go transform into a pirate and adventure back to save me from an evil marriage. Early in our relationship he used hard labor to show how much he loved me, like carrying around giant bags of cat litter. And I was usually a big jerk about it. I didn’t shove him down any hills, but… Anyway.

The Princess Bride ran so that Shrek could sprint gamely after it. One after another, William Goldman presents us with pulp adventure stereotypes that are inverted: the commoner princess too spicy for the evil prince to handle, an extremely erudite and considerate swordsman on a bloody revenge scheme, a soft-hearted giant serving as the muscle for their unintimidating ringleader. Even our sincerely handsome, valorous hero is played to the goofy hilt by Known Silly Bitch Carey Elwes, who I have been in love with for my entire life.

But I’ve been EVEN MORE in love with Robin Wright as Princess Buttercup that whole time. I remember in the book, they talked about how she brushed her hair a hundred times a day. It made her more beautiful. There was something about bathing in milk, I think. And it was the beauty she gained from the sadness of losing Westley that drew the Prince’s hungry eye. Robin Wright is every inch the ethereal, unbelievable beauty described in the book, and it shouldn’t be possible. A human is actually that beautiful!

Everyone in this movie is what, like, twelve years old? I’m telling you, they were old-ass people when I was a kid, but now I’m middle aged and this movie is full of babies! What happened?

(I was *so* *young* when I loved this movie so passionately. I’m telling you, the name Buttercup made me laugh because I thought it meant like…butter…in a cup. So young!)

In fact, The Princess Bride is much funnier when you have adult cognition, and you’re not still eating glue like it’s a part-time job. The broad family appeal offers something for every age, really. Little kids enjoy the excitement, older kids enjoy relating to Tiny Fetus Fred Savage who is reluctant to listen to the story, teens can enjoy the hotness of the surprisingly young leads probably, and older adults can actually know what’s going on.

You can tell an absolute genius like Rob Reiner sits in the director’s chair for this one. The Princess Bride is basically the When Harry Met Sally of 80s fantasy. I love it forever.

(image credit: 20th Century Fox)

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