Friday, 7 December 2012

Then & Now: The Princess Bride (Robin Wright)

Then & Now: The Princess Bride (Robin Wright)
Time: The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. With THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY coming out next week, I've been reminiscing other epically fantastical adventure films, filled with story and characters from cinema history. It wasn't too long before THE PRINCESS BRIDE came to mind, since it was one of the first live-action films to be told like a storybook (literally) I saw as a kid. I went ahead and watched it again, totally not remembering the actress who played Buttercup. I'm not sure how many have closely followed her career ever since, but when I looked it up, I was quite impressed with her body... of work that is. So let's go on a journey through time that will keep us on the edge of our seats, and visit the Princess Bride, herself, Robin Wright.
Robin Wright wasn't born into royalty and raised in a castle like you may think. She was actually born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in San Diego, California. Her first stint in acting was as Barbara Anderson on the Texas-based, cowboy hat drama series "The Yellow Rose". In 1984, she moved on to a drama series called "Santa Barbara", obviously taking place in California. So she was basically reliving her life on camera, which worked on audiences. She received three consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Young Actress in a Drama Series. It wasn't long at all before some Hollywood big shot decided to throw into high-concept motion picture, and that big shot was director Rob Reiner...

THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987) will likely stick in my memory forever, but is it really all that spectacular? Well, let's see. Right at the start, you think this movie will quickly jump into motion with some insane battle or fight scene, or at least an epic sky view of the kingdom. Instead, it opens on some punk kid playing video-games, and that kid just happens to be played by Fred Savage. Savage. Again. His grandpa interrupts his game to barge in and read a story; a story, by the way, that wouldn't particularly be in a little boy's taste, but maybe a teenaged girl [and she wouldn't want it read to her by grandpa]). This story, of course, is The Princess Bride. It begins with a young woman named Buttercup (played by Robin Wright) who lives on a farm in the fictional country of Florin. Whenever she gives her farmhand Westley (Cary Elwes) an order, he simply replies "As you wish". It's pretty much all he says, and as grandpa explains, Buttercup soon realizes it's code for "I love you". Silly, sure. Creepy? Sure. But she falls for him anyway, and when Westley takes off to seek his fortune so they can marry (because what is a wedding without things?), his ship gets attacked by some douchebag named Dread Pirate Roberts, and he is presumed dead. Awwwww.
This is also, presumably, where George Lucas got his inspiration for some ATTACK OF THE CLONES shots.
Five years later, Buttercup is for some reason arm-in-arm with a dude she hates named Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon). Yes, HUMPERDINK is his actual name of the heir of the throne of Florin. Why is she involved with this guy? I don't know, and the question never gets answered. Luckily (or unluckily?), she gets kidnapped by a group of three outlaws posing as a circus act. One looks like Shrek, another acts like Puss 'n' Boots, and they're both bossed around by Wallace Shawn, who's played every short, annoying, bossy bald guy in history. His scheme is to create conflict between Florin and their sworn enemy, Guilder, and start a war (because it's a "prestigious line of work"). While Humperdink sends his own minions off to find Buttercup, a masked man in black also follows the outlaws. The man in black is (spoiler alert) her true love, Westley. Of course, she can't figure this out until it's become painfully obvious. Once the kidnappers realize they're being pursued by someone, they split up, so Westley needs to go through three battles to get to her.
The first outlaw is the charismatic Spaniard, Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin). Inigo is a self-proclaimed "so-so" fencer who has dedicated his life to seeking revenge on the six-fingered man who killed his father. I love the background of this character, as well as Mandy's up-for-it delivery. The sword fighting in this movie is entertaining, and has a stage quality to it that's been missing from cinema for decades. They ultimately forfeit, and Westley continues his quest. Next thing you know, Shrek comes out of nowhere and throws a large rock at him. When I refer to "Shrek", of course I mean Fezzik, who's played by André the Giant. Most people I know love this character most of all, and that might include myself. He does deliver some of the most hilarious lines ("Why you wearing a mask? Were you burned by acid, or something like that?"). Anyway, they begin what looks to be a brutal fistfight, and then they forfeit. Wow, these guys really give up easy, eh? So Westley finally makes it to Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), who's holding Buttercup hostage with a bag over her head. Vizzini gets taken down pretty easily for a "final boss", in a battle of wits. Westley claims to drop a deadly poison named "iocane powder"in one of their drinks, but instead he puts it in both. Once Vizzini falls flat on his face, Westley reveals he's spent years building up an immunity to iocane powder. Jesus, this is a LOT of stuff to go through just to get in this Buttercup chick's pants. Is she really worth all the trouble?

What was I just saying?... Something about ice-cream?
So once she gets it through her head that he's the guy she thought was dead, she no longer wants to wed Humperdink, but "West" instead. They wandered through the spooky forest, where their luck was just the poorest. They're caught by Humperdink, and crew. What's a guy in black to do? He's tortured by a creepy man, with an extra finger on his hand. Meanwhile, Buttercup has a dream that she's already become the queen. She wakes up in a heap of sweat, and hasn't heard from Westley yet. I don't think that she understands Humperdink's post-wedding plans. He wants to start a war with Guilder, once they've found out someone's killed her. He promises to look out for her friend, Westley, but it's just pretend. Humperdink is so fueled with anger, he nearly kills Westley in the torture chamber. Hearing his screams throughout the land, Inigo and Fezzik create a plan. They find him with the help of magic, but what they see is rather tragic. Westley's barely still alive, and "true love" is his only strive. Billy Crystal plays Miracle Max, who helps them 'cause he's got their backs. They break into Humperdink's castle (which isn't too much of a hassle). Okay, no more rhymes. I mean it.
"Anybody want a peanut?"
I see know reason to go jabbering on much longer about this movie, since it's pretty well-known, but I'll give you the basics. Westley finds that Buttercup is about to commit suicide because of the wedding, and stops her with the remark, "There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. It’d be a pity to damage yours,” and it's a tender moment. I find this odd, because I've used that as a pick-up line before, and the only number I pulled was from the front desk in my doctors waiting room (with pepper-spray in my eyes). Inigo finally gets his revenge on the six-fingered man, Count Tyrone Rugen, played by Christopher Guest. It's so rewarding to see that dude get killed, not just for the thrill of vengeance, but because it's the only actual "death" in the movie. All of the other antagonists either get knocked out, tied up, or switch sides like it's f*cking Red Rover. Even Humperdink's outcome is one big question mark, pretty much. I give THE PRINCESS BRIDE a pass on its plot holes. After all, it's only a bedtime story some old geezer's been reading to Kevin Arnold the whole time, anyway. So who cares? It's a fun flick.

Now, I knew I was getting into some trouble writing about Robin Wright, because while she may be recognized for THE PRINCESS BRIDE, she's been in a ton of other pretty damn good movies. For starters, she starred in FORREST GUMP (1994) as Jenny Curran, Forest's grown-up childhood best friend-turned-crush whose hippy lifestyle sends her on a downward spiral during the '60's. She did quite an excellent job in that. She was also in THE CROSSING GUARD (1995), that movie where Jack Nicholson sets out to murder the guy who accidentally killed his daughter while driving drunk. It was directed by Sean Penn, who got married to Robin Wright the year after. It's worth the watch, if you haven't yet checked it out. UNBREAKABLE, MOLL FLANDERS, STATE OF GRACE, TOYS, and several other movies kept Robin occupied throughout the '90's, and it didn't stop there. For the sake of speeding things up, though, let's just flash forward and see what our little Buttercup looks like now...

Hmmm, well, aside from the absense of those lovely blonde locks, I'd say Robin's looking rather milftastic! These pics were taken at THE PRINCESS BRIDE's 25th Anniversary event last month, and our woman of the hour appears to be in top physical shape. But, why should that surprise me when she's been acting in TV and movies left and right? She gave two motion-capture enhanced performances in BEOWULF and A CHRISTMAS CAROL, both with her GUMP director Robert Zemeckis. She's starred in critically acclaimed films like MONEYBALL, STATE OF PLAY, and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. While all that is impressive, I'm still quite blown away by how good her figure is after all these years. Can't quite say the same for good ol' Cary Elwes.

"Hey, did you see me in Saw 3D?"
So let's get some of the personal stuff outta the way. After 14 years of marriage, and two children, Robin and Sean Penn got divorced. Speculation over the last year says she may be seeing Ben Foster. Yeah, the dude from GET OVER IT. Good for that guy. Robin still looks pretty damn foxy in a bikini these days, as well.

If you ask this reporter, Robin has still got it in all the Wright places. I would probably stab a giant rat-monster thing repeatedly with a sword just to have a shot with her. Although I'd really like to see her with long hair again, I'm going to consider this a spectacular outcome. There's no doubt she's a full-on nostalgia hottie, but she looks like she'd be just as dynamite in the sack as she was in her hay day. I'm always happy to see an actress getting work, especially one who made such an impact in a cheesy-masterpiece like THE PRINCESS BRIDE. She'll be in front of our eyeballs a lot more once the upcoming political thriller series "House Of Cards" premieres on Netflix on February 1st, 2013. She's set to star as one of the lead characters on the first show to be broadcast on Netflix and developed by David Fincher. Nice! She'll also be seen in the live-action/animated political film, THE CONGRESS. Well, Buttercup, you've certainly lived up to your eternal beauty. Congratulations, Robin Wright! As you wish! (Is that weird?).

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