In a world where there are arguments for and against a remake of The Princess Bride, I’m torn. On the one hand, I don’t ever really see a problem with remaking films, especially when they have no connection to the original. If two versions of a movie can exist independently without impacting the other, why would anyone be mad about that? This is a rhetorical question, by the way, as I’m well aware people (and former cast members) have very strong opinions on this.
Which is why I need to get this off my chest. I’m 30 years old, and I saw The Princess Bride for the first time a year ago after consistent pressure from colleagues and friends. It didn’t live up to the hype, and I’m well aware that while there are plenty of factors that played into my not liking it, I think others need to perhaps take a step back and acknowledge that this film could not benefit from a remake. Basically, The Princess Bride is not as great as people say.
Cinematically Speaking, The Princess Bride Could Be Better
Some movies continue to look new thanks to the innovative decisions of their directors and techniques that are still used in modern cinema today. The Princess Bride is not one of those films, and a rewatch will show that while the film is fine, there are some ways it could’ve been shot to make the action more dynamic.
While I’m still not necessarily sold on The Princess Bride getting a remake, I can get behind the fact that doing one now would likely net the remake a much larger budget than the first one. I’d love to see an acclaimed director with a passion for the original tackle it with modern technology, and maybe a style that shakes up the overall tone and aesthetic. We already have the original, we don’t need a shot-by-shot remake.
Personally, I’d love to see a cinematic or visual style that’s more akin to a child’s imagination. After all, this is a story being told to a child, so we should be viewing it in the way a child would visualize it. The Princess Bride as it stands is adequate, but it could definitely improve with a visual upgrade, some more modern filming tactics and a fresh splash of color to brighten things up and hammer home the fairytale vibe.
Being Quotable Does Not Equal Being Excellent
I once heard an argument that part of what makes The Princess Bride such an excellent movie is it’s one of the most quotable movies of all time. I don’t need to run through the numerous iconic lines since fans know them already, but suffice it to say there are a fair few that get brought up any time the movie is mentioned, and occasionally in other places in pop culture.
You know what else is an incredibly quotable movie with tons of quotable lines? Napoleon Dynamite. Borat is another great example, as saying “my wife” will presumably never go out of style so long as there are dude bros across America. Do we hold these films in equal high regard because lots of people know the lines and can recite them?
We don’t, and while memorable quotes may not be the sole reason why many love The Princess Bride, it’s not a trait that speaks to its quality either. Quotes from movies can be far more iconic than the movies they originate from. Seeing as I’m already delivering a big hot take in the film community, I’ll go out on a limb and say most people love saying “You can’t handle the truth” more than watching A Few Good Men.
The References Are Dated, And May Not Align With Everyone’s Modern Morals
Movies are a relic of the era they exist in. I don’t think The Princess Bride or anyone involved with it need to defend the film against the fact that society has changed since its creation, but I can certainly see why a parent would be apprehensive to show it to a child today. As Richard Brody of the New Yorker said, Buttercup (played by the badass Robin Wright) is written more like an object than an actual living person.
That’s not really a fault of Robert Reiner or The Princess Bride, as it’s adapting the novel of the same name. Additionally, one can certainly make the argument that Buttercup’s character falls in line with the “Damsel in distress” trope of medieval tales, so it’s not really inappropriate in any way. I won’t deny any of that, although I will say it’s surprising anyone in Hollywood wants to remake the movie given that characteristic and the modern trend of women’s empowerment in Hollywood.
Does this mean The Princess Bride should be altered in a remake to present Buttercup as a stronger more free-willed character? I’ll say no in this case, as changing Buttercup in that way fundamentally changes the story, which isn’t The Princess Bride. At the same time, remaking the film exactly the same feels ill-conceived and unnecessary. Just let the movie continue to be a relic of the past and put the energy of a remake into telling a new more-progressive story that can become a relic of this era.
The Princess Bride Isn’t That Funny
Going in, I knew The Princess Bride was described as a comedy. Personally, I think it’s better described as a endearing children’s drama with wit, but not really a comedy. I’ll say that part of it may be due to not growing up with it, so those iconic lines may not hit me quite as hard as it would someone who grew up watching it.
And yes, I’m sorry to say that Billy Crystal’s whole bit isn’t as great as it was hyped up to be. I like Crystal, and later learned that a majority of his best parts were cut to keep the movie family friendly, which leads me to believe we weren’t getting his best material in the final cut. Regardless, Crystal is a funny guy, but his work as Miracle Max is far from his best.
Remember the ‘whole movies being a relic of their era’ thing? Comedy has changed over the years, and what’s funny today may not be funny tomorrow. Whether it’s from constant homage in other works or shifts in society, the comedy in The Princess Bride fell flat to me having never seen the film until well into adulthood, and it’s far less funny than it is endearing nowadays.
Okay, fans of The Princess Bride that have made it this far, you’ve heard my rant. Put any and all comments, criticisms, and the like in the comments below, and continue to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest news in movies and television.