Double Feature

December 2019 - So, here we are. Another year over and a new one (almost) begun. Let's wrap up 2019 with a couple of movies that have enduring popularity year after year.

Love manifests itself in different ways for different people in Love Actually, an R-rated holiday-themed film from 2003. The cast features Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth and Alan Rickman.

The action takes place just before Christmas in London, where it seems everyone is having love problems of some sort. Hugh Grant plays the new British Prime Minister who promptly falls for one of his staffers. Emma Thompson plays his sister. She suspects her husband (Alan Rickman) is having an affair with one of his employees. Another of Rickman's employees (Laura Linney) can't have a relationship of her own because she's devoted to her institutionalized brother.

Then there's the recent widower (Liam Neeson) who's helping his 10-year-old stepson pursue the girl of his dreams. And, we can't forget the guy who's in love with his best friend's wife and uses cue cards to prove it. Everywhere you look, there's love – and, a lot of the time, it sucks.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. Not a terrible movie, but not great, either. I think the main problem here is that there are too many stories crammed into the film. There's very little character development. Mostly, it's just a mish-mash of loosely connected vignettes. It feels pretty good while you're watching, but later on, you wonder what all the fuss was about.

The better classic is The Princess Bride. This PG-rated movie was released in September 1987. I was just starting my senior year in college, so that may explain why I didn't see it in the theatre. Why it took me another 30 years to see it on TV? Well, I don't exactly have an answer for that.

Rob Reiner directs this story within a story. It's based on the book by William Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay. The cast includes Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Billy Crystal and Carol Kane.

The movie opens with Savage (The Grandson) feeling under the weather and playing video games in his bedroom. His grandfather (Falk) shows up to read him the story of The Princess Bride. Savage is skeptical, but eventually he gets sucked into the tale of true love between Westley and Buttercup.

Buttercup (Wright) is the daughter of a farmer. Westley (Elwes) is a hired hand. To every order Westley gets from Buttercup, he replies, "As you wish." Eventually, Buttercup realizes that Westley is really saying "I love you." With their first kiss out of the way, Westley sets off to earn his fortune and then return for Buttercup.

But, then comes word that Westley has been captured and killed by Dread Pirate Roberts. So, Buttercup has few options when she is handpicked by Prince Humperdink (Sarandon) to be his bride. Shortly before the wedding, Buttercup goes for a horseback ride. She's promptly kidnapped by Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin, and André the Giant. Soon, a masked pirate and Prince Humperdink are in pursuit.

Overall review: Loved it! And now that I have it on DVR, it won't take me 30 years to watch it again.