Once upon a time, a fat little book was published containing some of the most absurd situations and characters any eager-eyed child had ever cracked open a large tome to discover. A tale of derring-do, devious villains, kind-hearted giants, amiable swordsmen, diabolical pirates, and “twue wuv,” The Princess Bride inspired a cult following that is still alive and kicking more than thirty years later. In fact, it has forever tainted the association of “Buttercup.”
I was a fair young thing with a golden head of hair and a big imagination when my older sister plunked her VHS into our machine and announced that it was high time we meet her “favorite movie.” To this day, I am not certain what made it her favorite, although the fact that her coworkers called her “Buttercup” might have helped (her being a blue-eyed, long-haired blonde beauty). Either way, I was captivated, along with anyone who has ever seen The Princess Bride (… well, maybe not everyone; some people have no soul). So much so that I begged to watch it again … and again… and … I was a kid. You get the point.
Then, I read the book, which was even more delightfully ridiculous … containing a far more insipid Buttercup, lots more complexities and little nuances in the “Pit of Despair,” and a great deal of nonsense. I suppose it is the satirical nature of the story that makes it so endearing; it sets out to be an intentionally stupid story, and it succeeds. It has all the tropes which it then toys with to extremes — instead of just a dull heroine, we have a dullard heroine; and a young man who is courageous and loves enough to withstand torture and the sucking out of his soul; there are elements of peril, a suicide attempt by a bereaved, angst-ridden heroine, a desire for revenge against someone who killed a man’s father, and … the typical happy ending. But lest you think it’s a “kissing book,” it’s not. It has torture, giant rodents, and … Columbo. Okay, Peter Faulk, but he’s wearing the same wrinkled outfit. It’s a sassy, silly story that knows not to take itself seriously.
Lest you be one of the few poor souls who has never sat through this two hour yarn, allow me to enlighten you as to the basic elements of the plot: dum-dum (Buttercup) loves pretty boy (Wesley), but he has no money so he goes off to make his fortune and dies in a pirate raid. Or so she thinks. Years later, when she’s manic depressive and about to marry a hoity-toity prince who has much more diabolical plans for her than motherhood, an oddly protective pirate turns up to rescue her from the clutches of an idiotic genius, a pun-loving giant, and an itchy Spaniard who doesn’t do small talk and gets right to the point: show me your hand, and if there’s six fingers on it, you’re a dead man.
Fire swamps, torture sessions, giant rats, malicious albinos, and sinking sand later, it’s all the way it’s supposed to be, with “twue wuv” winning the day and… okay, so it ends up a kissing book.
Just the way we like it.