My little sister and I grew up in a fairly technology-deficient household, which meant that my inherent love for pop culture had me seeking out movies and TV shows at friend's houses, while my sister remained disinterested and effectively ignored everything.
Fast-forward to our adult lives, with me working as a film writer and my sister holding it down in the finance industry, and I'm continually shocked at how sheltered she's kept herself when it comes to even the most seminal films.
Which is why I've elected to undertake a project, and I've dragged her along (at times, kicking and screaming): I'm going to introduce her to classic films she's missed out on, and I'll share her hilarious, sometimes shocking reactions with you fine readers. We lovingly refer to our project as Sibling Revivalry, and you're cordially invited to join us every month for our collective re-view of a new classic.
This month, inspired by the glut of YA novels-turned-movies ("The Spectacular Now" and "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," to name two), we're tackling the 1987 Rob Reiner-directed big-screen version of William Goldman's novel, "The Princess Bride." Here's what my sister had to say about the classic romantic adventure comedy, 26 years after its release.
"You're either Spaceballs or you're not."
My sister said this while we discussed the film's tone. "It didn't line up for me -- it's either whimsical or it's slapstick or it's fully serious, and to me it was kind of scattered. It was confused." When I told her that Whoopi Goldberg campaigned for the role of Buttercup, she was astounded. "THEN it would've been 'Spaceballs'!" was her retort. As far as Robin Wright's first big-screen performance, she called it "very serious and angry" and feels "it might've thrown the tone of the movie off a bit." Ouch.
Yes, Andre the Giant Was Real
My sister initially though Andre the Giant, who plays Fezzik, was either fake or wearing prosthetics. During the fight scene between he and Westley, she actually took to the Internet to look up info about the late, great seven-foot-tall French wrestler. She ultimately decided, "He's kind of like Shrek -- big and sweet." When I told her that Goldman considered Arnold Schwarzenegger for the role of Fezzik, she laughed. "That's really funny -- I would've loved to see him in this! And with his accent, too -- it would've been great!"
Speaking of accents, my sister had a field day with all the dialects in the film. That quote is attributed to her insistence that Fezzik and Peter Cook's infamous Impressive Clergyman sounded exactly the same to her. Mawwiage! Even more hilarious was that she kept referring to Westley as a "pool boy" -- once I realized she was being earnest, we figured out that she was mishearing Wright's English accent as she pronounced "poor boy." My sister likes her version better.
"Freakin' Disney, man. Ruined my life."
Fairy-tale true love-driven stories are permanently on my sister's naughty list -- she insists they create unrealistic expectations for adult relationships. "They were all the same. 'Cinderella,' the one with the apple ['Snow White'], 'The Little Mermaid.'" We discussed the fact that the plot of "The Princess Bride" was motivated by true love, and she quite astutely noted that it didn't just encompass the Westley/Buttercup story, but involved Mandy Patinkin's Inigo Montoya, as well. "The Westley and Buttercup one was more 'movie true love' and Inigo's was more like real life true love. It was just more relatable."
"The Princess Bride" Has Similarities With ... Wall Street?
My sister seemed most engaged during the three trials the man in black endured in his pursuit of Buttercup, and admitted that the Iocane Powder scene with Wallace Shawn's Vizzini was her favorite. "He looks like guys I date," she said of Vizzini. "Like he's good at chess and is a doctor." When Humperdink -- in hot pursuit -- gloated, "I always think everything will be a trap -- that's why I'm still alive," she snorted, "Story of my life -- I work on Wall Street."
Westley and Jason Statham Are Her Heroes
So, who would my sister choose -- fictional or real -- to take her through the Fire Swamp? Westley. When pressed for another answer, she said, "I feel like Jason Statham would do a solid in a fire swamp. He'd play a dangerous chauffeur and he'd call a car and he'd drive it out of the Lightning Sand. I was thinking George Clooney, but I don't know that a tuxedo would really work out in a fire swamp. Maybe Ryan Gosling's the third runner up, but he seems a little dainty to me. He seems like he'd get upset over the dirt, and I don't like dirt either, so we'd probably both die trying to stay clean."
"The Princess Bride" Is Just Too Long
My sister's experience of watching "The Princess Bride" was basically the opposite of the one depicted in the flashback device of Fred Savage and Peter Falk -- as the film went on, she became less and less engaged. She cites her turning point as after Buttercup and Westley rolled down the hill. "It was the reveal, and then I knew what they had to go through and it was the same old thing. If they had wrapped it up in 30 minutes, I would've been into it, but it continued on too long. It's like 'Ahhh!' I know what's going to happen! He's going to get the girl, it's going to be a happy ending, just get on with it!"
Seriously, Westley Is Her Hero
Speaking of that hill scene -- my sister was quite taken with Cary Elwes's Westley as he and Buttercup reunited after their infamous "as you wish" tumble. She insisted on pausing the film to insert herself into the moment (photographic evidence below).
Watch your back, Buttercup!
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