Director: Steven Spielberg
Run Time: 1h 57m
When I saw The BFG, every child in the theater joined in a round of applause as the credits rolled. I do not share their enthusiasm.
An orphan named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is an insomniac who made the mistake of not following three very simple rules: Never get out of bed, never go to the window, never look behind the curtain. One night she caught a glimpse of a giant who was strolling through London so of course he had to snatch her to keep her from telling others what she had seen. Sophie was whisked away to Giant Country where her captor and several other giants live. Luckily for Sophie, the giant she met is known as the Big Friendly Giant, aka BFG (Mark Rylance). He’s not like the others who eat human beans. The thought of innocent children being gobbled up is too dreadful to bear. It’s hard enough keeping herself hidden from giants like Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) or Bloodbottler (Bill Hader), but Sophie thinks they need to be stopped. And she’ll need the BFG’s help.
When I was a kid I loved Roald Dahl’s book about a girl who befriended a giant. The way the giant speaks — Gobblefunk — is fun and twisted and always wrong; a characteristic that made his friendship with Sophie that much more endearing. I still have the original pink paperback sitting on my shelf, with yellowed pages and tattered edges. Unfortunately the film adaptation did not capture the magic I remember. Instead the magic is for a new generation. It’s more about the visuals than anything else.
It’s true; the look of The BFG is mesmerizing. The special effects are so much better than the films I fell in love with as a kid. The BFG sharing scenes with Sophie. This small girl in giant surroundings. And the scene where they spent time catching dreams was beautiful.
However while your eyes were kept busy, your brain wasn’t asked to process much else. I went back and re-read ‘The BFG’ and found that there was a lot less “action” than I remember. It is mostly dialogue. But for some reason watching the conversation on screen was a lot less interesting than reading it on paper. I was quite bored for most of the film and I was disappointed at how underwhelmed I had been.
Children are most certainly the target audience for this Spielberg piece, so I understand The BFG wasn’t necessarily meant for me. My opening statement mentioned the numerous little hands clapping enthusiastically for the movie they had seen. Part of me believes it was more the fact that their attention was held by the sight of it and not necessarily the story. While I can usually enjoy a kids’ movie as an adult, this one is certainly intended to cater only for a younger audience.
I can promise parents that your children will enjoy this, but I don’t think it’s worth the money or the time to caravan to the theater to see it.
Dahl wrote of another child affected by magic: Matilda was an extraordinary little girl. I also think it would be entertaining to see what would happen if the Trunchbull met Fleshlumpeater.