(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

[In honor of THE PRINCESS BRIDE's 35th anniversary on October 7, here is Mark's original review of that film.]

CAPSULE: William Goldman expertly wrote a twisted fairy-tale novel and Rob Reiner did a great job of bringing it to the screen. Fun and unpretentious.

One of the advantages of being a proficient and successful writer is that you can write what you like and do not have to worry that this idea is too silly and readers will laugh at it. One of the advantages of being a proficient and successful director is that you can make the kind of films you like and do not have to worry that the idea is too silly for audiences. William Goldman has written such successful books as NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY, MAGIC, MARATHON MAN, and SOLDIER IN THE RAIN. So when he decides to write a book-length fairy tale, his publisher knows he can pull it off. And when Rob Reiner, who was not much of an actor but as a director of three films--the worst of which was as good as THE SURE THING--wants to direct it, he isn't going to have too much trouble getting up the mazuma to make a fairy-tale movie.

Princess--are you ready for this?--Buttercup (played by Robin Wright) is to be the unfortunate bride of Prince Humperdinck (played by FRIGHT NIGHT's Chris Sarandon). But the only man she has ever loved was the callow youth Westley (played by Cary Elwes of LADY JANE) who was killed off-screen by a notorious pirate. Buttercup would like revenge on the pirate and she isn't too fond of her fiance either. And speaking of revenge, Inigo Montoya (played by Mandy Patinkin) would like some against the six-fingered man who killed his father. They could get revenge together but unfortunately Inigo's current job involves him and two friends, including Fezzik the giant (played by Andre the also Giant) kidnapping and murdering Buttercup. Then there's the little boy who would rather play videogames than listen to his grandfather's story. Yeah, well, he's in there too.

It is hard to find fault with as well-meaning and enjoyable a film as this offbeat fairy tale. The real problem is that the characters are flat so that one is never really drawn into the story. Reiner can create characters we like and believe, and had he done it here the film would have been just about perfect. As it is, the story feels a little thin and too short for its material. Something is wrong when the only one likable character is played by a quarter-ton of professional wrestler.

Beyond that all I can say is this is the most fun you will have in a film for quite a while. I could tell you why this fractured fairy tale is fun, but most of what is fun catches you off-guard. I couldn't convey the fun and I'd probably ruin the gags. Rate the movie a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale.

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					Mark R. Leeper
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