Sunday, 6 May 2012

Movies That I Haven’t Seen But Should Have - Part 5: Parody

There are a lot of movies I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never seen. But rather than pretend I’ve seen them or change the subject when they’re mentioned, I’ve decided to share them with you. These films that are cult classics or masterpieces that I have missed or avoided, I am sitting down to review. This is a film that many of you called for me to watch after I admitted to not seeing it. I had no idea what it even was until I looked it up. I saw how much I loved the creators and said, 'right, let's watch this.' I sat down with a friend of mine and watched The Princess Bride.

The Princess Bride, if you don't know, starts with a kindly grandfather (Peter Falk) telling his sick grandson (Fred Savage) the story of The Princess Bride. It is the tale of a beautiful woman named Buttercup (Robin Wright), who falls in love with her farmhand, Westley (Cary Elwes). However, he leaves and vanishes. Assuming he is dead, she swears never to love again. Years later she agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) even though she doesn't love him. On the night of their wedding she is kidnapped by Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) and his assistants, Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and Fezzik (André the Giant), but they are followed by a mysterious man in black who claims to be the Dread Pirate Roberts, the same pirate who it is believed killed Westley. Defeating the kidnappers by over powering them and out-witting them, he saves Buttercup. Soon the Prince and his men are on the trail of the mysterious man in black and Buttercup and underlying motives begin to emerge.

The Dread Pirate Roberts is actually Zoro's cousin.

Comedy performances are rarely better than those in parody movies. There's something about how seriously the mockery is taken that makes it so perfect. Unlike modern parodies - Disaster Movie, Meet The Spartans - no actor on screen makes light of their performance. These are serious characters in a hilarious world. Cary Elwes nails this persona on the head. His witty comebacks and perfect execution of the simplest comedic moments are equalled only by parody legends such as Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges. Mandy Patinkin is also fantastic as Montoya, the revenge fuelled, but overall nice guy, kidnapper who has one goal: Kill the six fingered man who killed his father. His contrasting personalities are so well interwoven that it doesn't jar at all when he goes from ruthless to friendly in seconds. A talented performance, that is. The other stand out performance is from everyone's favourite Oscar host, Billy Crystal as Miracle Max. The definition of a tertiary character but a wonderful parody of the magical characters in a fantasy movie. The only character who annoys me in the film is Buttercup. Robin Wright seems like the grey in a beautifully coloured portrait. She just bores me a bit against all the well developed and exciting characters.

Buttercup never saw her kidnap coming.

As we all know, old school parody writers are some of the most gifted, witty, and hilarious people on the planet. They know how to take anything, general genres or specific stories, and turn it into something incredibly amusing. William Goldman and Rob Reiner, as writer and director respectively, made a fantastic team. Even the smallest characters had a level of depth that most Hollywood blockbusters don't manage. My only criticism, as mentioned before, is the lack of depth or intrigue to Buttercup. Rather than being a parody of a fairytale princess, she simply was a fairytale princess and something about that jarred for me. But apart from that, the post modern comedy was fabulous. Just a solid comedy. Also, there are some fantastically choreographed fight sequences.

Always worth a watch. Even if it is just to stop people complaining that you haven't seen it, it is worth the time. It's only 90 minutes. It's a classic comedy and many people will claim it's one of the best. I will certainly say it's one of the most intelligent and witty, but honestly, I don't think it deserves to be as high as 198 on IMDb's 250, which is where it is.

Best bit? I adored the fencing scene between Westley and Montoya. A fantastic fight scene with great dialogue.

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