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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Princess Bride is a quirky, funny fairy tale with quite a bit of action-style violence, including a torture machine, sword fights (one to the death), a death by poisoning, quicksand, fire pits, ROUSes (rodents of unusual size), and giant shrieking eels that attack main characters. But the movie's skewed humor and its storybook feel lessen some of the impact of the violent scenes. There's also drinking -- in one scene a drunken character is revived in a barrel of water -- and some kissing, as well as a bit of language ("son of a bitch," "Jesus!" as an exclamation) and a reference to a character's "perfect breasts."
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What's the story?
In THE PRINCESS BRIDE, the most beautiful woman in the world, Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn), gets engaged to the cruel Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) after she hears that her true love, Westley, was killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. But before the wedding, she's kidnapped by a huge man with enormous strength (Andre the Giant), a master swordsman (Mandy Patinkin), and an evil genius (Wallace Shawn). A mysterious masked man (Cary Elwes) must defeat them all, and then escape with Buttercup through the treacherous Fire Swamp. When they're both captured by the prince and his six-fingered henchman, Count Rugen (Christopher Guest), they discover that not even death can get in the way of true love.
Is it any good?
This witty modern fairy tale by William Goldman (screenwriter of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men) is resoundingly satisfying. Goldman's book is even better -- and lots of fun to read aloud (though the book's asides are more for adult readers). The motley cast of storybook characters is consistently hilarious, right down to the bit parts featuring the likes of Carol Kane and Billy Crystal as a bickering old witch and wizard, and Peter Cook as the Impressive Clergyman.
Simply put, The Princess Bride is stuffed full of every thrilling element of a classic romantic adventure -- princes, villains and evil geniuses, giants and giant creatures, sword fights, revenge, kidnapping, and a rescue on white horses -- and it coats them all in delicious humor.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes for a really good adventure/love story like The Princess Bride. Is it sword fights? Scary creatures? Handsome leading men and ladies?
How does this movie poke fun at some of the standard fairy-tale elements?
Is Buttercup a role model? What else could she have done other than wait for Wesley to rescue her? Is their relationship healthy? Realistic?
- In theaters: September 25, 1987
- On DVD or streaming: September 4, 2001
- Cast: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright
- Director: Rob Reiner
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Book Characters, Pirates
- Character strengths: Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: January 8, 2021
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