' ' Cinema Romantico: Forgotten Great Moments in Movie History

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Forgotten Great Moments in Movie History

Perhaps stemming from my general exhaustion with people whose biggest movie-watching kicks come from picking out plot holes and whining about them, forgoing ruminations on aesthetics and theme, I have a soft spot for moments in movies that, intentionally or unintentionally, derive humor from poking holes in real world logic. Like, the moment in “The Naked Gun 2 1/2” where villainous Quentin Hapsburg (Robert Goulet) is on the very specific lookout for two aging white men, a dude in a wheelchair, and O.J. Simpson, and yet upon encountering a four-person mariachi band consisting of two aging white men, a dude in a wheelchair, and O.J. Simpson cannot quite detect that his desired targets are right in front of him.

This sort of moment was just as ably captured in 2011’s “The Muppets” where Miss Piggy’s Parisian secretary, a sterling Emily Blunt, shoos The Muppets from the office only to be fooled by Muppet Man, wherein all The Muppets stand on one another’s shoulders while hidden in a trenchcoat to give the impression of being a lone individual. I have written this before but the way Blunt plays the moment just slays me; she knows something is amiss but she cannot quite put her finger on what it is. Man, I love when logic gets mocked.

“The Princess Bride” (1987) mocked logic a lot. The book on which it was based, in fact, mocked it even more, with memorable lines like “He was ashamed of his attire, worn boots and tore blue jeans (blue jeans were invented considerably before most people suppose).” I dug the whole Man in Black concept, honest I did, but I’d be lying if I said part of me didn’t wish Westley was wearing tore blue jeans. But I digress. The point is that logic has no place in “The Princess Bride” and the place where logic is least welcome occurs during the infamous of battle of wits.

This battle, as you might recall, involves our dear Westley (Cary Elwes), still masquerading as the Man in Black at this juncture even though the audience obviously knows it’s him (logic!), and Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), he of the self-professed big brain. The battle is wonderful, of course, this goes without saying, full of dialogue as comical as it is snappy as it is witty delivered with great flair. The scene concerns Westley placing iocane powder, “one of the deadlier poisons known to man”, in one of the two goblets before the men and then forcing Vizzini to guess which goblet was iocane-free, making the battle of wits a battle to the death.

But wait. The goblets. See, that is sort of what I want to talk about here. Because the battle of wits takes place at a conveniently table-ish boulder, with a blindfolded Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright), currently at the mercy of Vizzini, just off to the side. The conveniently table-ish boulder, however, is not merely occupied by two goblets; it is occupied by two goblets and three apples and a hunk of bread and a hunk of a cheese and a cheese knife all of which is situated on top of a tablecloth. Now, in the run-up to this scene, we have seen Vizzini carrying a medieval knapsack, nothing more, which naturally prompts the question: wait, where did all that crap come from?

I know. Believe me, I know. I sound like Neil deGrasse Tyson here. But then, that is precisely why I love this scene! No mention is made of how this extravagant spread came to be; no mention is made of this extravagant spread at all; Westley, when deciding what tack to take to thwart Vizzini, simply says “Pour the wine” as if it is the most natural thing in the world for this extravagant spread to be where it is. After all, Vizzini is, as he says, smarter than Plato and Socrates, and since Westley ultimately wins the battle of wits that means he is smarter than Vizzini and Plato and Socrates. This is to say, such men are above plot holes.

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