Picks and Pans Review: The Princess Bride

updated 09/28/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/28/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Look no further for the goodtime movie of the year. This one's got high adventure, true love, torture, revenge, monsters, miracles and a little sex. You'll laugh a lot. And if your eyes occasionally get misty, that's because the film also takes note of what gets lost in growing up. Screenwriter William (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) Goldman and director Rob (Stand by Me) Reiner have fashioned a wry fairy tale for the '80s, best appreciated by those who've already learned that life isn't fair. Goldman's 1973 book, reconstructed, he claims, from the good parts of a story his father read to him, became a cult favorite. His movie has the makings of an instant classic. In the opening scene Peter Falk reads the medieval tale of The Princess Bride to his sick grandson. At first the boy is bored with the mushy stuff between the pretty Buttercup (newcomer Robin Wright) and her equally pretty farm-boy love, Westley, nicely played by Cary (Lady Jane) Elwes. But the kid perks up when Westley goes off to become a pirate and Buttercup gets chosen as a potential wife by the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). Later, when Westley must try to save Buttercup from death and worse, meaning marriage to the Prince, he finds his heart's desire has been kidnapped by a giant (pro wrestler Andre the Giant), a hunchback (Wallace Shawn) and a swordsman (Mandy Patinkin). This is fantasy played for real. Sometimes the right people don't get married and the wrong people die. This may be the hardest-won happy ending in movie history. Reiner directs with just the right mix of hilarity and heartbreak. The entire cast is superb, but the funniest is Billy Crystal as a wizened miracle man who performs cut-rate resurrections on the mostly dead. Patinkin's performance is especially touching. He can say, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die"—and make you laugh, cry and cheer at the same time. The movie, two hours of pure enchantment, has the same effect. (PG)

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