The BFG

I liked but didn’t love The BFG. There’s lots to like: Mark Rylance’s tongue trips over Roald Dahl’s language just so; the animation manages to be both technically and precisely perfect while also being quite fanciful; the BFG’s universe is literally the stuff of dreams.

But I didn’t really connect with it. And like most things in life, I blame my mother. I grew up without Roald Dahl. Tiny little Jay was a voracious bfg-movie-2016-mark-rylancereader. I spent my nights under my unicorn comforter with a flashlight and a stack of books. As a kid I devoured Robert Munsch, Judy Blume, and E.B. White. Roald Dahl? Never heard of him.

Sean had, of course. His childhood was idyllic. I’m sure his mother never missed an opportunity to give him chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven, or to blow gently on his skinned knee before applying the Band-Aid, or to predict what children’s book would be turned into a movie 35 years hence when he was an Asshole despite her best efforts.

But I don’t think Sean liked it any better than I did. Which, again, is not to say we didn’t like it. Just that…well, it failed to really engage. Director Steven Spielberg is paying so much attention to getting every little detail right, to fleshing out every nook and cranny of this ethereal place, to bfg-movie-2016-mark-rylance-ruby-barnhilldusting out the cobwebby corners of our imaginations, that he forgets to pick up the pace. We’re not all lumbering giants. Some of us have the attention spans of fleas. Not me, mind you. But certainly my nephew, who at 2 and a half with his angelic ringlets and heart-melting smile, needs a lot of action to keep him sitting still. And The BFG has very little. In fact, the movie’s greatest adventure culminates in a pot of tea with the Queen of England (a very amusing Penelope Wilton). Even I thought it a little absurd that in the face of child-eating giants, tea-time was still observed, but a kid will be downright baffled. My nephew’s only knowledge of the Queen is probably from that Minion movie wherein they endeavour to steal her crown. He doesn’t give two farts about British humour. And wasn’t this supposed to be a kids’ movie, after all?

To complain about Spielberg feels a little cheap, even to me. I do hope older children will give this one a chance despite its leisurely unfolding because it really is a darling world with a great heart-felt story. And because I’m usually the first to complain when a kids’ movie is all primary colours and non-stop flatulence (It’s worth noting, however, that this movie does contain a fart joke so big and bad you might even call it treasonous). But let’s face it: I was a smidge bored. Sean should have brought a colouring book and a baggie of Cheerios to keep me entertained. I was enchanted by the intricate animation, by the sight of the Big Friendly Giant’s downy neck hairs swaying in the breeze from a young girl’s breath while perched on his big friendly shoulder. But it wasn’t enough. I needed more. And if that’s what you’re hearing for an impatient little Asshole, what chance does a 7 year old really have?

 

 

Let us know what you thought of the movie. What age range would you suggest? Did you read the book as a child, or read it your own?

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22 thoughts on “The BFG

  1. bigandpinkytoes

    I didn’t read the book as a kid, but it did seem like it would be right up my alley. I kept watching it thinking I should be liking it more. All the components were there but maybe just not executed well enough? I can tell you that my 2 and 4 year old would not have given two shits for it. I’m curious what my 8-11 year old nieces and nephew would think though.

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  2. Christopher

    Dahl originally introduced the BFG as a story within a story. In Danny, Champion of the World it’s a bedtime story Danny’s father tells. And Danny was an extended version of a short story originally written for adults.
    And none of them are what I’d call Dahl’s best work.
    I think The BFG is cute but it lacks the bite of some of Dahl’s other stories.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Well whaddaya know. I wouldn’t have even complained about the story – but it was too awkwardly middle of the road, not really pleasing for kids or adults. Maybe they should have gone darker and just embraced it.

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  3. StephLove

    I read a lot of Dahl as a child, but not this one. I think it was published when I was a teenager, which would explain why. My kids both read it and loved it. We haven’t seen the movie yet but we might take the 10 year old if we ever have a slow weekend.

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  4. Birgit

    Dahl is one strange kook but a very good story teller even if odd( Willy Wonka comes to mind). I saw the trailers but there is something about this that I just don’t feel engaged in and you seem to be confirming this. I don’t think it will. Be a big hit

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    1. Jay Post author

      Especially since it was released sandwiched between two movies a little more kid-friendly: Finding Dory, and The Secret Life of Pets.

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  5. Liz a.

    I did not read Roald Dahl as a child, either. I saw the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and then sought out the book, but was kinda meh about it. I read nothing else by him. So, I’d never heard of this story.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, he’s had several movies by now so it’s curious his books have still eluded me (especially now with more nieces and nephews than I have fingers to count).

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  6. Sean

    This definitely isn’t one I loved. I wanted to but it was missing something, like you said. I totally agree this was very slow, probably too slow for most kids, so I’m not sure there is anyone this movie will really resonate with (since it didn’t capture this grown up who devoured all of Roald Dahl’s books as a kid).

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    1. Jay Post author

      You didn’t really remember much of the story though, and maybe that’s an indicator that it wasn’t the best story to begin with.

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  7. fifi + hop

    Your review pretty much sums up my prediction of watching it..my girls are dying to see this movie, but I think I’d get bored too. We did however see Finding Dory, which I know you wrote about, and while Finding Nemo can never be matched, I maybe had a tear or two.

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  8. DotedOn

    I didn’t see this movie but to I understand what you mean. A movie for kids (any age), needs to be full of action or they will stop watching and get annoyed.
    I even get annoyed with many of the last movies for kids, they are TOO long! 🙂

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  9. jwforeva

    HAHA omg he turned into an asshole despite her best efforts. Got me cracking up 😂😂 I’ll definitely catch this when it releases. Nice review, I don’t think the pace would put me off but we’ll see 🙂

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