12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE PRINCESS BRIDE

CAST

Peter Falk (Columbo)
Fred Savage (The Wonder Years)
Betsy Brantley (Dougle Jeopardy)
Cary Elwes (Hot Shots!)
Robin Wright (Unbreakable)
Chris Sarandon (Childs Play)
Mandy Patinkin (Dead Like Me)
Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap)
Andre The Giant (Conan The Destroyer)
Wallace Shawn (Family Guy)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Billy Crystal (Analyze This)
Peter Cook (Supergirl)
Mel Smith (European Vacation)
Margery Mason (Love Actually)

In a frame story, a man (Peter Falk) reads a book, The Princess Bride, to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). Scenes of the reading occasionally interrupt the main story.  A young woman named Buttercup (Robin Wright) lives on a farm in the country of Florin. Whenever she gives her farm boy Westley (Cary Elwes) an order, he answers “as you wish” and happily complies. Eventually, she realizes that he means “I love you”—and that she loves him too. Westley leaves to seek his fortune so they can marry, but his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who famously never leaves anyone alive.

Five years later, Buttercup reluctantly agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), heir to the throne. Before the wedding, she is kidnapped by three outlaws: a Sicilian boss named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a giant named Fezzik (André the Giant), and a Spanish master fencer named Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), who seeks revenge against the six-fingered man who killed his father. Two separate forces pursue them: Prince Humperdinck with a complement of soldiers, and a masked man dressed in black. The outlaws were actually hired by Humperdinck himself to make a pretext for war by leaving Buttercup’s dead body on the shores of rival country Guilder.

The man in black catches up to the outlaws at the top of the Cliffs of Insanity, where he defeats Inigo in a swordfight and knocks him unconscious. He then defeats Fezzik in hand-to-hand combat, choking him until he blacks out. Finally, he kills Vizzini in a battle of wits by tricking him into drinking poison, and so captures Buttercup. When he tells her he is the Dread Pirate Roberts, she becomes enraged at him for killing Westley and shoves him down a slope. As he falls he calls out “As you wish” and Buttercup realizes that the man is, in fact, Westley. Buttercup chases after him and learns that the previous Dread Pirate Roberts had offered his identity to Westley in order to be able to retire—which was also how that “Roberts” had acquired his identity.
The duo manage to cross the Fire Swamp with its fire spouts, lightning sand, and Rodents of Unusual Size, but are captured by Humperdinck and his sadistic six-fingered vizier Count Rugen (Christopher Guest). Buttercup agrees to return with Humperdinck in exchange for Westley’s release, but Humperdinck secretly has Rugen imprison and torture Westley in the Pit of Despair. Later, when Buttercup expresses unhappiness at marrying Humperdinck, he promises to search for Westley. Eventually Buttercup realizes he is lying and taunts him as a coward. Humperdinck, enraged, tortures Westley to his death. Meanwhile, Fezzik finds Inigo and informs him of Rugen’s existence. Inigo decides that they need the man in black’s help to get into the castle. Hearing cries of anguish, they reach Rugen’s torture chamber only to find Westley dead. But they take him to Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), who explains that Westley is “only mostly dead”, and supplies a pill to revive him. With the wedding imminent, they give Westley the pill too early and he awakens partially paralyzed. Still, Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik invade the castle. Humperdinck drastically abridges the wedding ceremony and locks Buttercup into her chambers.

Meanwhile Inigo finds and duels with Rugen. Seriously wounded early in the battle, he begins repeatedly reciting his long-rehearsed greeting of vengeance: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” This restores his focus and he finally slays his nemesis.Westley finds Buttercup about to commit suicide, and assures her that her marriage is void because they never said “I do.” Humperdinck confronts them but Westley bluffs him into surrendering, leaving him tied up, to contemplate his cowardice. Westley rides away triumphantly with Buttercup, Inigo, and Fezzik on horses that Fezzik conveniently discovers. As they leave, Inigo remarks that now that he has his revenge he isn’t sure what to do next; Westley suggests he become the next Dread Pirate Roberts. At last Westley and Buttercup share a passionate kiss. As the grandfather finishes the story and prepares to leave, the boy asks him to read the story again the next day. The grandfather smiles and replies, “As you wish.”

Crammed with adventure, true love, swordfights, pirates, casual villains, and a clergyman with a speech impediment, “The Princess Bride” is an adorable comic classic. A must-see.

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