So the other day I decide to fill the car with gas before Jenny takes it to work. Of course, this is not Mayberry – it is Miami, where even the simplest errand can turn into a test to see if that last nerve left in your body can indeed be broken. I went past the gas station I normally use to another where the price was cheaper. It looked like a new station, but there was no place on the pumps to use the credit card, yet, it was a new modern pump. I go inside. “Cash only,” I am told. I am told the ATM is free. I may have been born in the daytime, but I wasn’t born yester-day, so I leave. I drive to another I have used before, but this time I must have put the wrong zip-code, so the machine tells me, in english (obviously, not a local machine), PLEASE SEE CASHIER. I now have to pay in advance, which I don’t like to do when I really want to fill up, but time is flying by, so I say “Fifty please”. This being Miami, specifically Little Havana, the cashier looks at me with an unsure look on her face and repeats “Fitty?”
“FIFTY!”, I repeat back to her. “Fitty?” she says again. Yes, I acquiesce. I’m not a gambler, but by saying “Yes”, I feel like I’ve released the ball on the roulette table, the wheel spins, the ball bounces, what number will it land on? She rings up the sale, and I see she has charged me FIFTEEN dollars. That was really close, she deserves a reward. My reward to her is that I will put fitty dollars in my gas tank and leave. That should be enough gas for Jenny to get to the first stop sign on our street. Jenny’s smart, she’ll figure something out.
What was the point of that story? Running a simple errand in Miami, is not FUN. The Princess Bride (1987), on the other hand, IS fun. Mucho Funo!
The movie starts in modern times, with an un-named grandson (Fred Savage) home sick. Not really sick, just sick enough to stay home and play video games, the good kind of sick. His day is seemingly ruined by a visit from his un-named grandfather (Peter Falk) who decides to read him a book read to him by his father, The Princess Bride.
Here sets up the wonderful device of Peter Falk’s great narration, which also helps keep the fairy tale of The Princess Bride grounded in reality. The actual plot doesn’t matter, it’s merely a reason for an showcase of some of the best comedic performances put on film.
Top honors go to Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya), Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), and Andre the Giant (Fezzik) as the trio who kidnap Priness Buttercup (Robin Wright) at the behest of her soon-to-be husband, Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon).
Of course, even the best actors need something worth saying, and that is provided by screenwriter William Goldman. He and the actors deliver a movie with a seemingly endless supply of quotable lines. Such as:
Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE!
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Vizzini: I can’t compete with you physically, and you’re no match for my brains.
Man in Black: You’re that smart?
Vizzini: Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?
Man in Black: Yes.
The Impressive Clergyman (Peter Cook): Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…
Inigo – Are you the Miracle Max who worked for the king all those years? Miracle Max – The King’s stinking son fired me, and thank you so much for bringing up such a painful subject. While you’re at it, why don’t you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?
It was reported that Director Rob Reiner had to leave the set during Billy Crystal’s (the above quoted Miracle Max) scenes because he laughed so hard he would get nauseous. After seeing his scene, that’s totally believable.
There are also some beautiful moments; Mandy Patinkin’s Inigo pursuing his father’s murderer with a combination of earnestness and sadness that is surprisingly touching (Patinkin has said this is his favorite role), and Peter Falk as the grandfather slowly bonding with his grandson, rings beautifully true.
Ready for mucho funo? Then see or re-see The Princess Bride, that “dweam wifin a dweam.”