Why ‘The Princess Bride’ Is the Perfect Movie

In this world, everyone is so divided on just about everything. But at least most movie fans can agree that The Princess Bride is essentially the perfect movie. Of course, it took some time for the general public to get onboard. Director Rob Reiner’s 1987 film was only a modest commercial success during its initial release. Over the years though, it became widely beloved.

With The Princess Bride now available on Disney+, this seems like just the right time to take a moment and reflect on the film itself. Its legacy has become the stuff of legends. Star Cary Elwes even wrote a book about making the film. Still don’t believe The Princess Bride is just as perfect as you remember? Need more convincing? As you wish.

Director Rob Reiner and the cast of 'The Princess Bride' at the 25th anniversary screening
Director Rob Reiner and the cast of ‘The Princess Bride’ at the 25th anniversary screening | Dave Kotinsky/WireImage

Everyone, including the cast and crew, still loves ‘The Princess Bride’

Most of the time, even the most popular films — sometimes, especially the popular ones — are fraught with behind-the-scenes drama. Either a director is super demanding, an actor lashes out at crew members, or some other difficulty makes the set a tense, uneasy place to be. That doesn’t seem to be the case with The Princess Bride. In fact, all involved still stand by it.

By all accounts, Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Chris Sarandon, and Reiner are all still on friendly terms. Every so often, the creative team will re-emerge to celebrate another milestone. And rather than begrudge The Princess Bride, everyone involved in making it has genuine affection for the film.

You can tell a lot about a film’s enduring legacy by how those who made it regard the project several decades after its completion. In the case of The Princess Bride, everyone seems proud of their contributions. And thanks to the film’s accessibility to audiences of all ages, even small children today are growing up with the tale of Westley and Princess Buttercup.

Director Rob Reiner’s classic perfectly balances many genres

A huge part of why The Princess Bride is such a perfect film is, first, how many different elements it fits within its story and, second, how incredibly well it balances them all. The film expertly balances sweeping romance, meticulously choreographed swordplay, wry satire, and imaginative fantasy without missing a step. Very few films can manage such genre acrobatics.

Certainly, Reiner’s film owes much of this achievement to the William Goldman novel on which it is based. The fact that Goldman himself adapted his book for the screen is a testament to just how well The Princess Bride distills his material into a briskly paced 98-minute film adaptation. In lesser hands, the fairy tale could have fallen flat, lacking the charm it aims for.

Instead, Goldman adds a framing device of a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading Westley and Buttercup’s love story to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). This relationship only deepens the emotional hook of the main story. In the end, The Princess Bride works as both pure escapism and a metaphor for a very real connection between a grandfather and grandson.

The internet stopped Hollywood from remaking ‘The Princess Bride’

The Princess Bride is so perfect, in fact, that no sequels, reboots, or other major extensions of the film’s story have followed. When the world caught wind of a possible remake, the movie’s many fans shut it down before the project could get any further. And for once, Hollywood listened and seemingly stopped its development dead in its tracks.

Even an effort to turn The Princess Bride into a stage musical has run into persistent issues. We live in a world where every moderately successful film project gets a TV series, sequel, remake, reboot, or all of the above. So the fact that everyone nodded in agreement that The Princess Bride cannot be topped says a lot about just how perfect the film is after all these years.

The Princess Bride is now streaming on Disney+.