Saturday, March 17

by S. Morgenstern...

In 1984, I was in my first year of High School, and in the fall of that year Saturday Night Live busted out a new cast. As far as I can tell this was the first year I really watched a whole season of SNL, a show I had grazed on from time to time. I know that I had zero memory of what most people at the time still thought of as Saturday Night Live. That is, Belushi-Aykroyd-Murray, and to some extent, Chase. So when I was able to stay up late, and the opening of the show got some snazzy 2d composited graphics, I started tuning in. Billy Crystal and Chris Guest pretty much set my adult comic sensibilities that year. There were others on the show, most notably Marty Short in the second half of the year when he brought the best of his SCTV legacy with him. But Crystal and Guest jelled everything together for me. They set up everything in me that I think is truly, rolling around funny. They were peaking, and I was 13, it's a potent combination.

The fun could have stopped there, of course. But then I got hold of Spinal Tap. And then, The Princess Bride happened.

The Princess Bride is the cinematic experience for me. I saw it 6 times in theatres, more importantly, I saw it 4 times in the first 2 weeks. It combined perfectly the deep comedy that SNL had been giving me with that "tingly" chill thing I had gotten from some of the fantasy stuff I loved (the Hobbit cartoon comes to mind). Even though 20 years on it's been downgraded to kids film by most, The Princess Bride is an achievement. It is both archly comic and deeply emotional, often in the same scene, often in the same performance. It is endlessly quotable and enjoyable. It is the standard by which I judge all similar work by.

This same loose group, Crystal, Guest, Rob Reiner, Bruno Kirby and others also defined some other genres along the way. Is there a better mid-life movie than City Slickers? A better modern rom-com than When Harry Met Sally? A better pure comedy than Waiting for Guffman?

Most of what's on TV and in movies these days descends from this stuff, too. The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm owe everything to Chris Guest. Miramax and the Weinstein brothers wouldn't be anything at all if When Harry Met Sally hadn't laid out the blueprint they successfully mined for years. All right, we could have had a better crop of mid-life stuff, but that doesn't take away from how great city slickers is by a long shot.

Which brings me to this:

It's the first trailer for stardust

Yeah, I know. The Princess Bride has a legacy, too, now.
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