Show Me the Romance

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Archive for the tag “fairytale”

Book Review: The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride
S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
By William Goldman

You’ve seen the movie, oh, about a thousand times, so reading the book seems pointless. Do it anyway.

The Premise

This is like trying to write the premise of Star Wars. True love, Buttercup and Westley, Prince Humperdink, the Cliffs of Insanity, the man in black, Fezzik the Giant, Inigo Montoya, “Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line!” “As you wish!”, Rodents of Unusual Size, the Fire Swamp, Miracle Max, the six-fingered man, the Dread Pirate Roberts, and happily ever after. Imagine watching the movie, but getting more of it, because the experience of reading the book is just like watching the movie—complete with asides by the author, who claims to have first heard the story as a little boy.

The Pain

I wouldn’t go so far as saying the book is better than the movie. There are some jokes that work much better as visuals, but where those fall flat, Goldman has plenty more zingers that just never made the cut to the screen. You could say the pace is not as tight because the author takes the time to go back and give Fezzik’s story, and Inigo’s story, as well as more details behind the other characters. Anyone who wants to be a novelist or a screenwriter should read this book because you can clearly see what parts Goldman cut (he adapted it for the screenplay as well) and why, and how it was tightened, and how they made some scenes work when they had to cut lots of expository information to fit it all into the movie. Both the book and the movie work brilliantly, so this, my friends, is how it’s done.

The Payoff

I used to scoff at the idea of having a favorite book—there are so many I love!—but after reading The Princess Bride, this is officially my favorite book. There’s more of Westley and Buttercup’s romance in the book than there was in the movie (not a lot more, but a little!). I read slowly, savoring every turn of phrase because I was having too much fun experiencing it for the first time. The adventure is both old and new. It has everything, and it’s told in such a delightfully satiric and warm-hearted vein that I know I’ll want to read it again. And again. And probably read it to my children one day.


5 out of 5 arrows


TV Show Review: Once Upon a Time (2011-present)

Once Upon a Time
TV Show (11 episodes to date)
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore and Robert Carlyle.

I wrote a full-length review of ABC’s Once Upon a Time pilot episode back in October, so if you’re looking for more in-depth analysis of the show itself, click here. Of course, that was based only on the first episode, and since then, I feel the show has gotten even better. The romance, however, is not this modern fairy tale’s strongest suit.

The Premise

When Snow White and her Prince Charming win their happily ever after, the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla, below) is very put out. She curses all the fairy tale characters, banishing them to a terrible place where all their happy endings are ruined—a small town in modern-day Maine. It has been more than twenty years since her coup, yet time does not pass in Storybrooke, and none of the characters remember who they were. Instead, they think they’re normal people. A teacher. A sheriff. A psychiatrist. Even Ms. Evil Queen herself comes to Storybrooke to rein over her minions as Mayor For Life. But just like rules, curses are made to be broken.

The Pain

Each episode features a real-world storyline and flashbacks to what those featured characters did in their past lives as fairy tales. I enjoy the format, but it can be confusing when trying to sort out what parallels between the two worlds are meaningful, and what is just there for the sake of a good story. Also, the campy, Bob Mackie-esque costumes favored by the evil queens/witches/fairies in the flashbacks are either awesome (my opinion) or embarrassing (entirely valid opinion held by many other people). Finally, I’m not convinced yet that the romances in the show tug the heartstrings enough to give this one a four or five arrow rating, as much as I enjoy the show itself. Lately, the romance between Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) has begun to feel like an affair, and I never find cheating romantic.

The Payoff

I’m sure the executive producers (Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, writers of Lost) have many more peaks and valleys in store for viewers over the course of however-many seasons, but for Once Upon a Time they have professed a dedication to telling a good story instead of always going for Twist Value. The acting is pretty good, the costumes are memorable, and any time you get to see dry, modern wit share the screen with daring deeds and princes on horseback is just fine in my book.


3 out of 5 arrows

New episodes air Sundays at 8/7 c on ABC

Movie Review: Penelope (2007)

Movie (91 minutes, PG)
Starring Christina Ricci and James McAvoy

The French-language poster is better than the US version.

If Penelope had been released in theaters with all the proper promotion, it wouldn’t be a cult hit dependent on word-of-mouth–it would be a hit, period. Reese Witherspoon has produced (and cameoed in) a fairytale for the paranormal set, complete with disfigured ‘princess’ and diamond-in-the-rough ‘prince’. And before you go “Prince? Princess? What is this–Disney for grown-ups?” just hear me out. Penelope is a romance with style.

The Premise

Due to a curse on her rich, blue-blood family, Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci) was born with a pig snout instead of a nose. In an effort to protect her from the scorn of the world, her parents constructed an entire wonderland for her inside their house, and never let her go outside. She’s learned about the world through books and music, and the only boys she meets are the ones who speak to her through a one-way mirror. Apparently, the curse will be broken if she falls in love with her own kind, so her parents parade only well-born boys through their house. Every time twentysomething Penelope shows them her face, they run away in terror…until blue-blood Max Campion (James McAvoy) arrives.

The Pain

The fairytale genre leaves room for some convenient plot turns and over-simplification. Most of the actors chew the screen like silent film stars, but I didn’t really mind that. It fits this satirical fairytale. The romance seemed to sag at the halfway mark, but redeemed itself by the end.

The Payoff

Simple and innocent as this story is, it has more romance than traditional fairytales, and McAvoy brings a believable honesty to his role that elevates this above more traditional fairytale endings. I loved Enchanted (starring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey) but that was a fairytale comedy. Penelope is a romance.


4 out of 5 arrows

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