For countless years, The Princess Bride has maintained its status as the pinnacle fantasy film and highlight of nearly every church sponsored sleepover, lock-in, picnic, movie night, and probably even a couple communion services. Well, exactly twenty years later, we have Stardust. But while this film is indeed a fantastical voyage through a world of fancy, it may not exactly be the perfect film for a youth group get-together. However, that may not be a bad thing.
From the beginning, Stardust is reminiscent of the stories you might have been told as a child, with an introduction that barely overloads the viewer with exposition but succeeds in getting the ball rolling. And boy, once that ball starts rolling, it never stops. The focus of the tale is a boy named Tristan who, while undergoing the task of retrieving a fallen star for the source of his infatuation, also undergoes the process of becoming man. In due course, he also happens to learn how to fight, how to dress, and of course, how to love. It’s everything you learn from fairytales, and it is exactly what you would want from one. The film simply oozes charm in the midst of its tremendous action scenes and its cast of wildly fleshed out characters, which includes princes, witches, and pirates. Did I mention it’s everything you could want in a fantasy film? Well, it is.
From a technical standpoint, the film looks great. The scenery itself is beautiful and is further enhanced by the wonderfully detailed effects. However, I can never help but worry about the life span of the computerized effects, which will certainly show their digital seams in a matter of years. Right now though, it’s fantastic. The acting itself is superb and deserves a review all to itself. There’s a hilariously over-done performance by Robert De Niro, a very off-kilter scene with Ricky Gervais, and another wickedly inspired performance by Michelle Pfeiffer as a witch. Of course the main characters shine, but the movie never underestimates the supporting characters who each have a number of hilarious gags all to themselves. Still, what makes this film succeed is its focus on storytelling. Much like the fallen star, the movie glows brightest when the audience is given the chance to see its personality. This is clearly evident in the writing, which is never keen to pass up a chance to make light of the present situation or throw in a well-chosen gag. The dialogue is smart, witty, and all the while, still beneficial to the story.
So if this is everything you would want in a fairy tale, why wouldn’t it be shown in every church around the country? Well, at the price of that ingenious wit evident in the film, there are a number of jokes that (while being uncontrollably laugh-out loud hilarious for us adults) are simply too off-the-wall and promiscuous for the kiddies to enjoy. That means there’s a whole lot of innuendo’s, double-entendres, and tail ends of conversations that only the older crowd will get and the younger crowd will be blissfully unaware of. But so what? Let the kids be unaware. Let them watch it, enjoy it, and then get it when they’re in college. It’s no big deal if it’s not The Princess Bride, because it is a film all it’s own and unlike any other out there. It is undeniably entertaining, funny, and ultimately very endearing. The movie leaves you with a warmth and glow that carries on. In that respect it is more than welcome in the ranks of classic fantasy films and is well deserving of a place on everyone’s shelf as well as in their hearts.