Not just your average, everyday, ho-hum fairy tale
Running Time: 94 minutes
UK Certificate: pg
Country: United States
As a general rule, when you're lying in bed dying from the flu the last thing you want is Gramps waltzing into your bedroom and attempting to cheer you up with some schmaltzy lovey-dovey fairy-tale. Thankfully for the sniffle-stricken kid in this case (TV's Fred Savage), the oldie involved is Peter Falk (that's "Columbo" to you and I), and this is no ordinary fairy-tale.
In the rollicking romantic swash-buckler that unfolds, farm boy-turned-pirate Westley (Cary Elwes) has to fight his way past giants, rodents of unusual size, the Cliffs of Insanity and the Pit of Despair in order to be re-united with love-of-his life Buttercup (Robin Wright). Unfortunately, thanks to a law allowing the stuck-up Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon) to marry whichever local piece of totty he chooses, Buttercup is betrothed to the smarmy swine against her will though you'd think the sudden dramatic increase in wealth might soften the blow.
This brilliantly scripted and incredibly witty ride is scattered with memorable cameos from the likes of Mel Smith as an albino torture chamber attendant, Peter Cook as a clergyman with a speech impediment, and a barely recognisable Billy Crystal playing a Jewish faith-healer. Andre the Giant lends a hand and has some cracking lines ("It's not my fault I'm the biggest and strongest I don't even exercise"), but it's Mandy Patinkin who steals his scenes as the Spanish swordsman hell-bent on avenging the death of his murdered father.
It all comes together superbly to form something that's not quite a complete pee-take of the fairytale genre, but isn't that far away from it either. The characters are marvellously observed and the specially-written Mark Knopfler soundtrack ideal. The ridiculously unrealistic set (look out for the ground shifting during the first swordfight) only serves to add to the appeal and charm of the whole thing.
It's no wonder that bed-ridden kid ends up so impressed with his Grandpa's choice of story.
It's Got: A razor-sharp script and some great tongue-in-cheek acting.
It Needs: Andre the Giant to speak a little clearer those lines are well worth catching.
DVD Extras Not much here except a trailer and some filmographies. DVD Extras Rating: 2/10
Alternatives:The NeverEnding Story, Willow
Sheer entertainment of the highest calibre a great way to fill an hour and a half.