Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, I picked “The Princess Bride.”
The Movie: “The Princess Bride”
Starring: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright
Director: Rob Reiner
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97 percent
Froemming: Now that Halloween Month is over, it is time to get back to what the JOE-DOWN does best: Destroying your childhood. And much like the time we took on “The Goonies,” I set my sights on another ‘80s childhood classic: “The Princess Bride.”
This movie has it all: Fantasy, wonder, comedy and André The Giant. It is like “Game of Thrones,” minus the gore, bloodshed and incest. What could we possibly make fun of? Well hell, that’s never stopped us before, now has it?
While I start climbing the Cliffs of Insanity with my bottomless pit of snark, Brown what are your first thoughts?
Brown: “The Princess Bride” is one of those movies where everyone praises it as a classic. And yet I didn’t remember the last time I watched it, so I had to recall what made it a modern-day classic.
I mean, I’m a wrestling fan, so of course I remember Andre. And there was a dude that wanted to kill his father’s murderer. And, Fred Savage was a Chicago youth that was actually sick and not some Zack Morris rip off like Ferris Bueller.
I did forget that this whole movie is based off the ramblings of what I assume is a gin-soaked grandpa reading his grandson a story.
Because Froemming and I are jerks, we’re going to (REDACTED) all over this movie. So let’s get to it. Let’s put this movie’s fan base through the ultimate suffering!
After you, Froemming.
Froemming: As you wish.
The movie starts of in 1960s America…
Wait, no that’s “The Wonder Years.” I apologize.
We kick this off with a child (Fred Savage) who is faking being sick to stay home from school so he can play his wicked 8-Bit baseball game, much like I did as a child.
Brown: Oh, there was a time or two I totally put the thermometer on a lightbulb to raise my temperature.
Froemming: Same. I apologize to my parents. But to be fair, “Mortal Kombat” on the Sega Genesis was a lot of fun.
Now the boy is faking his illness and having a blast when suddenly his grandpa, who looks suspiciously like the detective Columbo.
Brown: Oh, grandpa looks like he bathes in peppermint schnapps.
Froemming: With his smoker’s voice and fake eyeball, you know he probably got in a drunken fight in an alley with a dog over a sandwich on his way to the house that day.
Brown: Are you suggesting that grandpa is Rickety Cricket from “Always Sunny?” Because I can totally see this man selling cocaine to buy kettle drums that are actually trash cans.
Froemming: He is Cricket’s spiritual grandfather.
Now, Gramps is here to visit his grandson and to read him a book. He is so old he claims books were his TV as a kid. I bet he also walked 10 miles to school in the snow both ways without shoes. These are the ramblings of an alcoholic.
Anyway, he sits down and opens up the book his father read to him as a child:
“Helter Skelter” “The Princess Bride,” a tale of true love and adventure. But this brat kid is all concerned over the kissing moments.
Brown: In the country of Florin, we see a young woman named Buttercup (who was clearly named after her father’s favorite horse) just bark orders at the young stablehand Westley, who just says “As you wish” to every demand. I mean, Buttercup is rather dismissive of him but she said please once so I guess she’s OK?
Now, Grandpa says that Westley says “As you wish” like you’d say “I love you.” But I think he says that because he’s more or less treated like a slave, spending his days shoveling crap.
Eventually, Buttercup starts to reciprocate Westley’s feelings.
Froemming: The book is a pro-slavery screed that the tiki-torch crowd probably loves.
Brown: So, I’m on a “30 Rock” binge right now and I swear this love story is the Thomas Jefferson movie that Tracy Jordan wants to make.
Froemming: It was no Halloween Bar Mitzvah, that’s for sure.
Brown: Because Westley is poor and in love, he wants to find fortune so he leaves for the high seas (or something) and vows to return to his true love.
Only, word arrives to Buttercup that Westley’s ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts and Westley is dead.
Brown: So, I didn’t realize until after this movie ended that Buttercup was played by Robin Wright, who played Jenny in “Forrest Gump.” So, I’d like to think that this led Buttercup to a dazed life fueled by drugs and anonymous sex before contracting AIDS and settling down with the dim-witted, unknowing father of her child.
Froemming: If only Buttercup had a cocaine-fueled near-jump from a hotel balcony to the rockin’ guitar solo of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” in this.
So, with Westley presumed dead on the high seas, Buttercup rebounds with Prince Humperdinck, a man whose surname is so ridiculous that it is no wonder his whole goal in life is to torture and kill. Pretty fast there, Buttercup. And yes, I typed “Buttercup” in a condescending manner. And yes, I know it has been five years. True love waits.
Now while wandering about in the woods, plotting ways to emotionally torment her dim-witted friend Forrest, Buttercup encounters three outlaws: Vizzini, the brains; Fezzik, the muscle; and Inigo Montoya, the looks. Why a group would go out without their wild card is beyond me.
Brown: Well, that’s why they eventually fail at their task.
The trio kidnap Buttercup and plan on killing Buttercup in the neighboring country of Guilder for reasons. Seriously, what were they hoping to get out of a kidnapping? I mean, if they just want to straight up murder Buttercup, OK, but they explicitly say it’s a kidnapping.
Anyway, while sailing toward Guilder, they are pursued by a ship they believe to be the Dread Pirate Roberts.
All the while, Humperdinck is hunting these outlaws in hopes to retrieve his future bride. Or so it seems.
In this high-seas pursuit, Vizzini and co. head to the Cliffs of Insanity. Not to be confused with the Mountains of Macho Madness.
Froemming: I counter your Macho Man with a tidbit about Andre hating the man.
Brown: In a movie full of charming characters, Andre is the most charming of them all, right? It legit makes me sad hearing about how much actual pain Andre was in while filming this movie according to the HBO documentary.
Froemming: Oh yeah. I was the perfect age when Andre was huge in the WWF and when this came out. When (pre-racist) Hogan body-slammed him, it was a huge deal that I do not think many people truly appreciate these days. Watching that doc and this, now I am sad he is dead.
Now, to escape the Man in Black (not Johnny Cash), our foursome climb the cliffs. Well, Fezzik does with three people on him. No wonder the man had back issues.
But we see, the Man in Black is also scaling the cliffs, much to the surprise of Vizzini, who keeps shouting “inconceivable” and Inigo, a fellow wordsmith, points out he is not using correctly.
Brown: I remember thinking earlier in the movie that Buttercup was (REDACTED)-talking Vizzini and thinking “Hey, you have no right to do that. You got kidnapped by the biggest dweeb in cinema history.”
There’s also a throwaway line from Fezzik that people in masks cannot be trusted. Andre the Giant would know! He wrestled many luchadores!
Inigo is the first line of defense for the outlaws for he is a world-class fencer with revenge on his mind. His life revolves around killing the six-fingered man that killed his father, which is something I’m sure Freud couldn’t analyze.
Anyways, out of boredom and sport, Inigo helps the Man in Black up the cliff before engaging in a pretty cool sword fight (when you disregard the weird gymnastics moves two-thirds of the way through). With as many action movies as we watch on the JOE-DOWN, my blood lust was quite angry seeing unnecessary gymnastics in a fight scene.
Naturally, the Man in Black thwarts Inigo. So now, it’s Fezzik’s turn.
Froemming: Wait, you watch pro-wrestling, which is full of crazy gymnastics, and yet it bothers you here?
Anyway, yeah, the Man in Black heads in Fezzik’s direction, where our friendly giant is ready to throw boulders at his head. But because Fezzik believes in fair fights, he wants to do away with the weapons and go to hand-to-hand combat.
In no situation is any hand-to-hand combat fair with Andre the Giant. Dude’s arm was bigger than I am today.
And alas, the Man in Black takes on Fezzik. I love how he just up and runs straight into him and nothing happens. I like to think the actor actually gave his all here and Andre stood there like a bug might have bit him.
But the Man in Black has a plan. He uses the old “sleeper hold” to choke out Fezzik. It was probably my favorite scene in this movie.
And now to trade barbs of wit with Vizzini!
Bro=wn: I’d like to think with Andre the Giant’s legendary drinking, he was hungover when this part was filmed and was like “OK, you win. I’m tired.”
So the Man in Black succeeded with steel. He succeeded with strength. Now, a battle of the minds as our mysterious pursuer puts poison in one of the two glasses of wine in front of him and Vizzini.
And as you can see, Vizzini talks in circles for the next two minutes.
Vizzini picks wrong and dies on the spot.
I love how this trick worked: the Man in Black had build an immunity to this particular poison over the years, so both glasses were spiked. That’s just smart writing.
Froemming: His immunity to poison is the same as Andre’s to booze!
Now the Man in Black kidnaps Buttercup himself, whisking her away as the Prince is on their trail. And we meet the Princes’ right-hand man, Count Tyrone Rugen, who approaches having fingers like Nigel Tufnel approaches amps: They go up to 11. This is the man Inigo has been hunting his whole life.
Now, while being chased, the Man in Black begins bickering with Buttercup: She is upset because he killed her precious Westley and he is upset because he is Westley and she moved on in life without him.
Man, you ditch out for five years and let your love think you are dead, that is called “ghosting” and you can’t just waltz back into her life like that.
Brown: I blame that on our unreliable narrator who bathes in the same tub he makes his illegal gin.
With Humperdinck still on the hunt, Buttercup and Westley wander into the Fire Swamp, which I assume got Froemming excited thinking of “Fire Walk With Me,” the “Twin Peaks” movie.
Honestly, it looked like Rob Reiner bought the set of Dagobah from George Lucas and said “Here, this is our fire swamp.” There’s random fire geysers, lighting-quick sand, rodents of abnormal size (that still freak me out as an adult) and, I assume, a little green dude with a high midichlorian count that can move (REDACTED) with his mind and sings song about seagulls.
And, naturally, they survive the Fire Swamp… only for Humperdinck and co. to stop them as they return to safety.
Froemming: Humperdinck is about to kill Westley, but Buttercup says she will marry him if he lets her love go back to his ship. I don’t know, it just feels like she just isn’t that into Westley at this point. Again, five years of ghosting would do that.
Humperdinck agrees, but then tells Rugen to bring him to their torture chamber.
So now Buttercup is doomed to a forced marriage and Westley’s only hope is that Butch returns to save him.
Brown: And it turns out that Humperdinck plans on killing Buttercup and blaming it on Guilder because the man is apparently a war monger on par with Dick Cheney.
In this torture device, I had two thoughts.
- I don’t think that Rugen has the same flair for torture of Revolver Ocelot from “Metal Gear Solid.”
- I bet a paycheck that Mel Gibson has that exact torture device in his basement if I’m to believe the “South Park” version of Gibson.
Now, here is the part of the movie that I actually empathize with Humperdinck. With Westley alive, Buttercup tells Humperdinck that as long as Westley’s alive, he is her true love. She will not marry Humperdinck now. Thinking that Westley was let go, she demands ships be sent out to find Westley so they can be wed. If Westley does not respond, she’ll kill herself before she reluctantly agrees to marry Humperdinck.
Dude, just end this relationship. Humperdinck, she’s not into you and you should not relegate yourself to being a woman’s silver medal to (REDACTED) suicide. Respect yo’ self, man.
Froemming: He plans on killing her, starting a war. He is not exactly The Baxter in this situation.
Brown: Oh, he’s garbage. I dunno, man. I’m a hopeless romantic. I think everyone deserves love. Except our friend Kyle Stevens. He deserves nothing but pain and misery after being the mastermind behind “Fuller House” month.
Froemming: Not wanting to chance anything, Humperdinck plans to clear out the undesirables who might caravan to the castle and destroy his plans, so he puts a military force at the gates and has them locked up — Wait, is THIS where Trump got the idea?
Brown: Soon, I envision Trump blocking out the sun like Mr. Burns before a baby tries to assassinate him.
Froemming: Well, one of those is our old buddy Inigo, drunk and out of work now. But the soldier who tries to arrest him gets clobbered on the skull by Fezzik. Now Fezzik has his biggest challenge: Sobering Inigo up by waterboarding him in barrels of good old H20 like this is Gitmo or something.
Westley, though, has had better days. He wakes up as an albino is cleaning him up (the “Pulp Fiction” gag wasn’t too far off here) so he can be tortured. And we see this whatchamacallit (technical term) uses water and doodads to suck years of life out of him in an instant.
It’s like marriage! Ammirite!?
Wesley’s screaming in his ultimate torture is heard throughout the kingdom like someone who is still hate-watching “The Walking Dead.”
Inigo and Fezzik find Westley dead (well, mostly dead) and take his corpse to a man known as Miracle Max, which is Billy Crystal in troll makeup talking in an over-the-top Jewish accent. Is that anti-semitic, Froemming? I think it’s anti-semitic.
Brown: Anyways, because Westley is going after his true love, Max makes a pill that revives Wesley, but leaves him in a state of paralysis.
So a drunken Spanish swordfighter, a literal giant that is falling apart physically and a partially-paralysed pirate man are off to storm a castle. This should be doomed to failure.
Froemming: Well, they have a wheelbarrow, a cloak and the can-do attitude that you millenials lack, and they pick themselves up by the bootstraps and plot a Trojan Horse scenario by lighting Andre the Giant on FIRE!
Wait, how is Fezzik not looking like a cross between Fat Albert and Freddy Krueger at this point?
Brown: Right?! I’m confused how there isn’t a bunch of villagers cooking smores over the crackling of Fezzik’s chest cavity. Andre the Giant was a big, big man; it would be like a tire fire.
But alas, our heroes enter the castle as the shotgun wedding between a homicidal prince and a ghosted princess is taking place. The ceremony is rushed for reasons? And Buttercup is escorted to her chambers as the knights take on these three bad hombres who crashed the wedding.
And after years of searching, Inigo finds his prey: The six-fingered man. And like all epic battles, this begins with Rugen fleeing like a coward.
Brown: That is my favorite moment in the movie. To me, it’s akin to when Indiana Jones just up and shoots the swordsman in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which is my favorite moment in any movie. You expect some epic fight and… NOPE.
While this goes on, Humperdinck and Buttercup are being wed by a priest with a lisp and the second best pair of mutton chops in pop culture behind Matt Jackson of wrestling’s Young Bucks. After the ceremony, Buttercup says she’s going up to the honeymoon suite to kill herself. This is how I envision this happens.
Froemming: We really have to review “Forrest Gump” next year.
Before she plunges a knife into her chest, we find Westley is already in her bed and talking about her boobs. *sigh* OK, that is incredibly creepy. But she jumps on him, smooching him and wondering why he is responding like he is President FDR all not moving his limbs. And then Humperdinck shows up. Ready to do battle with our hero with the John Waters mustache.
Westley keeps stalling, doing what Vizzini did during the poison wine scene and is buying time, hopefully so his legs work without the aid of those Stone Cold Steve Austin braces. And alas, he does stand, his mind game has won!
Just prior to this, we should mention Inigo did find his prey and gets a knife in the belly for his efforts. But with the will of an alcoholic in need of a drink, he musters up the energy to kill the man he has hunted since he was a child. And now he has no purpose in life, like the grandfather drunkenly telling this story to his idiot grandson.
Brown: Westley uses the gift of gab to get Humperdinck to voluntarily tie himself to a chair. So with our war monger tied up, Westley, Inigo and Buttercup escape with some horses that Fezzik wrangled up.
Here’s my question: Westley is paralyzed. He doesn’t even have the strength to hold himself up. How the (REDACTED) is he expected to hold the reins of a horse? The only way I can see it working is using some contraption that keeps him upright like they’d use in a “Weekend at Bernie’s” movie.
But whatever, true love prevails and grandpa is sobering up, so our story comes to an end. Fred Savage hopes grandpa can come over tomorrow and read the same story from a book that I’m positive he got for sharing a bottle of Thunderbird with a fellow homeless man.
Now that I want a peanut, I’ll let you lead us to recommendations, Froemming.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: Oh yeah, this is still a fun movie to watch.
Brown: Yes. It’s a fun movie that still holds up. The acting is a little over the top but perfect for this film. And, I’m not going to knock something with Andre the Giant in it.