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Why Pirates of the Caribbean is Basically The Princess Bride Retold

Is Pirates of the Caribbean this generation’s The Princess Bride?

Clay Morgan discusses pop culture while Jessica Buttram won’t let him finish. The latest J Butting In spat began when Clay said…

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Clay: So I was sitting at my sister’s house in Clearwater, Florida, a while back watching Pirates of the Caribbean 2

JButt: First, why weren’t you sitting on the beach? Was it late at night? Because if it wasn’t late at night when the beaches are closed or something, then this sentence should start with, “I was sitting on the beach in Clearwater, Florida,” and end with, “watching dolphins frolic in the ocean.” THE END.

Clay: …when I had a movie-viewing deja vu moment. Keira Knightley a.k.a. Elizabeth Swann—

JButt: WHY does her mouth bother me so much?  I mean, I think she’s super pretty, but then she uses her mouth to like, talk and smile and junk. It’s very distracting.

Clay: Um, yeah. Anyway, she was snapping at someone about something and all I could hear in my head was Buttercup from The Princess Bride saying—

JButt: Her mouth does not bother me. Her marriage to Sean Penn bothered me but only because she should have been married to Cary Elwes. Except have you seem him on Psych? He’s gotten chubby. (Not that I can talk since I have also gotten chubby since my Princess Bride days.)

Clay: Right, she was saying, “Would you promise not to hurt him?” Then Prince Humperdinck and Westley are like, “What was that?”

JButt: As long as you don’t start lumping Legolas in with the Dread Pirate Roberts. That is JUST insanity.

Clay: THAT’S when I started thinking about the similarities between Pirates of the Caribbean and The Princess Bride.

JButt: THEY BETTER NOT INCLUDE LEGOLAS AND WESTLEY. See? I can’t even remember that character’s name. It was Legolas, wasn’t it.

Clay: For starters, both movies have a cast of unique characters—

JButt: You mean Jack Sparrow. End of list of unique characters in PotC. I’ll maybe allow Barbosa because his death with the apple bit was TRAGIC, YO. There is no six-fingered man. No Inigo Montoya or Fezzik or Vizzini or Miracle Max. All names I had no problem remembering.

Clay: …grand adventure, and a fun story-telling style. So I said to myself “OMG self, is PotC this generation’s TPB?”


Clay: Well, at least you’re not OVERREACTING.

Look, I don’t PERSONALLY think that PotC is anywhere close to TPB, which is one of the greatest movies everrrrr. But I talk to students all day every day and so many of them have never seen TPB, which makes me sad for America. But they HAVE seen Pirates and I’m wondering if they feel about that movie the way we feel about TPB.

JButt: I’VE GOT THE SOLUTION: Let’s wait twenty-five years and see if a “The cast of POTC reunite in this fantastic photo shoot!” meme makes everyone’s day.

Clay: So yes, TPB has all these amazing characters and PotC has some colorful characters. Also, there are four PotC movies and I’m thinking collectively.

JButt: So what you’re saying is, it takes all four PotC movies to equal one TPB?

Clay: Maybe the problem is that we’re so anti-hero these days. We never get a true hero anymore. Every show and movie has to be all Breaking Bad/Don Draper/Jack Reacher/whatever female character fits here. “Oh look, the good guy has a past and a dark side. He must be so edgy and real and cool.” I mean, THEY’RE EVEN RUINING SUPERMAN. Is this a different subject? I feel like I’m losing control here, like my mind is Captain Jack Sparrow trying to run.

JButt: Confession: I haven’t seen the new Superman yet even though we own it, and that’s just a shame because Henry Cavill is prettier than Kiera Knightley.

Clay: You’re unfounded resentment of Keira Knightley and daydreaming about Henry Cavill is—

JButt: Henry Cavill. Hello, gorgeous. This one time a girl I used to work with said my husband reminds her of Superman. Basically that means I’m married to Henry Cavill.

Clay: …distracting you from the issue at hand–how Pirates of the Caribbean could be to some people what The Princess Bride is to us.

JButt: Where are these people? I want to gather them under my wing. You should probably just do the future of America a favor and put, “View The Princess Bride” on your syllabi.

Clay: Here’s another comparison. In both stories the main character dies and comes back to life.

JButt: I know we’re talking about all of the PotC installments, but I’m thinking the story would have been better if Legolas died in the first one.

Clay: And since you mentioned Barbosa, how about the comparison of a main character who is villainous early on but one of the good guys after the big turn? You know, kind of like Inigo Montoya and Fezzik.

JButt: BUT Barbosa has no honorable avenging to do. Unless you count his leg. I’m not counting his leg. He has no interesting back-story. I mean, he could have, but it’s like the writers were all like, oops, never mind, he’s not the moneymaker.

And they just sort of glazed over his relationship with the voodoo chick – Calypso? All I think of when I think of Calypso is Xena: Warrior Princess and that one episode were Xena and Calypso switched bodies. Wait, why aren’t we talking about Xena: Warrior Princess?

Clay: Take your Ritalin and focus, Jessie. We’re not talking about Xena: Warrior Princess.

JButt: Well, why not? Lucy Lawless is RIDICULOUS. She was way better than Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules. Now that’s an interesting back-story.

Clay: Wait, what are we talking about again?

JButt: We were talking about Henry Cavill. We were also Google Images-ing him.

Clay: Oh yeah, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Princess Bride. Have I convinced you yet? Are you even listening to me?

JButt: YOU’RE the one who brought up Henry Cavill. But I like how you are really pushing this theory even though it’s wrong. It shows character.

Clay: Both movies feature a lot of ships, corrupt rulers, and a hesitant bride. As for deadly sea creatures, PotC has the Kraken. TPB has shrieking eels.

JButt: Similarities don’t mean a whole lot. You know what I see at Redbox every time I go there? Wings (similar to Disney Pixar’s Planes). Koala Kid (similar to Kung Fu Panda). And most recently, The Princess of Twins of Legendale (similar to, well, you get the idea).

I’m just curious if you’re seeing the same attachments to PotC as we have to TPB or if you’re basing your ENTIRE theory on SIMILARITIES like an amateur.

Clay: Similarities are exactly my point as each generation has its own swashbuckling adventure, both movies about pirates. The Pit of Despair versus Davey Jones Locker. Inigo Montoya avenging his father’s death and Will Turner doing the same.

JButt: WILL TURNER. Man, I was set on calling him Legolas for the rest of forever and in every role he’ll play for always.

Again, and stop dodging the question, do these kids have the same level of attachment to Legolas as we have for Westley and the crew? Jack Sparrow doesn’t count because he isn’t the romantic lead. He’s just the one who carries the movies. YEAH, I SAID IT.

Clay: But the whole point of my theory is that WE can’t personally test it because we know The Princess Bride to be superior. So we need other people to weigh in here, especially someone who a) feels that PotC is one of their favorite movies ever, or b) can tell us what movie really IS like The Princess Bride for a new generation.

JButt: Here’s a thought: this generation’s The Princess Bride can be The Princess Bride.

And to test your theory, I just asked my 9-year-old (who has seen both), and he says Pirates of the Caribbean is better than The Princess Bride. He also likes Diary of a Wimpy Kid books more than The Chronicles of Narnia. What I’m saying is his opinion is terrible.

And to add to my totally correct judgment I am currently passing on you, let’s take a look at origins. The Princess Bride began as a brilliantly written book. Pirates of the Caribbean began as a three-minute boat ride at Disney World spun out into four (five? three? seven?) ridiculous plots that are basically just evolving into “Johnny Depp can’t stop being Jack Sparrow.”

By the way, Jack Sparrow as Tonto was weird and mildly offensive, right? It reminded me of Rob Schneider’s brief Native American character in Bedtime Stories. ROB. SCHNEIDER.


Clay: Good question but one we’ll have to take up another time. Right now I have to go get some work and/or Google Images-ing of Keira Knightley done.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Jessica Buttram writes, parents, laughs, and eats too much chocolate, probably right this very moment and often all at the same time. She’s also your biggest fan. FindFriendFollow.[/author_info] [/author]

Are Pirates of the Caribbean and The Princess Bride similar?

By Clay Morgan

Clay Morgan is the author of Undead. Say hi on Twitter.