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Dan's Review: "The BFG" gets Spielberg back to his roots

Jun 30, 2016 04:34PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance in The BFG - © 2016 - Disney

The BFG (Disney)

Rated PG for action/peril, some scary moments and brief rude humor.

Starring Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader, Michael David, Daniel Bacon, Chris Gibbs, Adam Godley, Jonathan Holmes, Paul Moniz, Ólafur Ólafsson.

Written by Melissa Mathison, based on the book by Roald Dahl.

Directed by Steven Spielberg.

GRADE: A

REVIEW:

Roald Dahl is one of the world’s greatest literary treasures. The man who penned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda and other stories have been adapted into various films and TV shows, much to the enjoyment of millions. The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is the latest Dahl adaptation, with a screenplay by Melissa Mathison and directed by Steven Spielberg.

It’s the story of young Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), and orphan girl who lives in a London orphanage. One night, she spots a 30-foot tall man sneaking around the orphanage, who abducts her and takes her back to the land of giants. Sophie is fearful that the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) will eat her, but discovers that he is vegetarian who subsists on a strict diet of “snozzcumbers,” a disgusting squash. She also discovers that her large, new friend lives in fear of a group of larger giants, who are known to enter the human world to snatch people (mostly children) and eat them. Sophie accompanies BFG during one of his nightly dream catching ventures, and learns he can share good or bad dreams with humans. She devises a plan to sneak into Buckingham Palace and share a dream with the Queen of England (Penelope Wilton) that will alert the government about the bad giants and their plans to steal children. When Sophie and BFG meet the queen, they must convince her that the dream is real so that the military can send out a strike force to capture the bad giants before they capture more kids.

The BFG is an instant children’s classic that can be enjoyed by kids and parents. Dahl’s book is in the proper hands of Spielberg, the man who almost single-handedly re-invented the family adventure film drama genre. Spielberg is back in his natural element here, and he got a lot of help from the late Melissa Mathison, who passed away last November from cancer. Spielberg and Mathison are the same team that brought us E.T. way back in 1982, and their pairing with the likes of Dahl couldn’t be more fortuitous for those who seek great stories of wonder and innocence in a world dominated by chaos and death. There’s also plenty of whimsical humor in the movie, including one of the best fart jokes in film history.

I’m not sure I can speak high enough of Mark Rylance, whose performance as the BFG is heartwarming and sincere. He’s fast becoming one of favorite actors (following his equally incredible performance in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies).

The BFG is certainly big and friendly enough for the entire family.


The BFG Trailer

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