Rob Reiner is one of my favourite film directors. His overall body of work boasts some real highlights of modern cinema. This is Spinal Tap remains the most intelligent and hilarious mock-umentary film ever made, with Woody Allen’s Zelig being an honourable runner-up. When Harry Met Sally re-invented the romantic comedy and emphasised the importance of a witty script and complex characters. Here, Reiner falls just behind Allen in the race, producing the second greatest romantic comedy that is only defeated by Annie Hall. Reiner has also made some far less substantial cinematic works but all attempts, even the failures, display his enthusiasm to explore character and genre. His keen mind-set is displayed at its best through his magical adventure film The Princess Bride; a tale of love, loss, bravery, treachery, sword fights, miracles and friendship. It is this film that demonstrates Rob Reiner’s diversity as a director as well as his consistent reliance upon witty dialogue and character.
There is always something charming about a film with comedy that reaches both a child and adult audience. The magical setting in which the main bulk of the story takes place is as enchanting as the characters. Adults are kept interested by the intelligence of the script and the dry sarcasm of certain characters. Christopher Guest is a perfect villain and Cary Elwes a charismatic fairy-tale hero, but it is Billy Crystal in the minor role of Miracle Max that brings the movie to its comical climax. Performances are consistent and nobody seems to be taking themselves too seriously. André the Giant gives a warm performance as the sensitive man of strength, displaying a shadow of his real self.
The Princess Bride is not only an entertaining and consistently enchanting cinematic triumph but it is also a demonstration of how to balance comedy and fantasy in order to engage with an audience of any age. The Princess Bride reminds us of the precious gift of imagination and how we use it to bond, relate and escape. Let us also not forget that it is responsible for some of the greatest sword fights and funniest lines of dialogue in modern cinema. “Inconceivable!”
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