The BFG

 photo bfg_ver2_zps109o0kyc.jpg photo starrating-3stars.jpgSophie is an unhappy girl who lives in an orphanage. One night she sees a giant walking about carrying what looks like a large trumpet. He spies her as well. In an effort to keep his existence a secret, he reaches in and snatches the young girl from her bed. Back to his place he takes her. While he may appear to be big and scary, his true nature is quickly revealed. For you see, the BFG stands for “Big Friendly Giant”. The two develop a fast friendship.

With Steven Spielberg directing and Melissa Mathison penning the script, expectations are high. The two have only worked together twice before: Twilight Zone: The Movie and more spectacularly, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The latter hit still remains the 4th highest grossing film of all time (when adjusting for inflation). So chances are you’re aware of its legendary status. The BFG pales in comparison.

Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill are certainly up to the task. Their portrayals are wonderful. Rylance fresh from his supporting part in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, shows that his Academy Award was no fluke. He embodies the titular creature with a twinkle in his eye and palpable warmth . His mixed up vocabulary is kind of cute too. The giant is manifested through a liberal use of CGI mixed with Rylance’s motion capture performance. The visual effect doesn’t look real, but it does feel magical.

The problem is that The BFG is an awfully slight adventure. The fantasy is adapted from a 1982 novel by Roald Dahl. The book is barely 200 pages, so a 2 hour drama is really pushing things. For almost 90 minutes, The BFG is just a “hang out” movie. Little Sophie and the BFG merely get to know each other for the major part of the narrative. He reads her a book, she falls asleep. Then he gives her a dream. Instead of eating humans, he cooks up snozzcumbers which are these repugnant vegetables. The word suggests a portmanteau of snot and cucumbers. Oh he also drinks a carbonated beverage called frobscottle where the bubbles go down rather than up. That’s how the gas is emitted from the body as well. In place of burps we get what the BFG calls “whiz-poppers”. This information laying the groundwork for the most protracted setup to a fart joke I’ve ever seen. It’s pretty amusing I’ll sheepishly admit. It includes a couple of corgis.

Roald Dahl is the same author of classics like James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches. An undercurrent of evil is usually a common theme in his stores. The potential for death is a most definite possibility. In The BFG we’re told hideous giants are responsible for the disappearance of children. They regularly raid the cities under the cover of night to eat “human beans”. The BFG would rather spend his time on other things. Sophie follows him on one of his runs to harvest dreams. He then gives the good ones to children with the aid of his trumpet. This talent is later utilized in a section involving Queen Elizabeth II. This is where story developments finally take place, but they form the last 30 minutes of the plot. For most of the chronicle we have essentially watched these two make small talk and chill. The lack of action plainly begs for a musical number or two at the very least. A bit of judicious editing would have helped tighten the tale’s languid rhythms. I can’t recommended this to everyone but I will to a select few. The BFG is a cult film – a production whose leisurely charms will undeniably delight a passionate, though very small, audience.

06-30-16

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11 Responses to “The BFG”

  1. I agree with most of what you said. I was just supremely bored by the “small talk and chill”. I just needed it to get on with it and not gloss over the cannibalism the way that it did.

    • I didn’t hate it, but it’s a most curious film. I have to give Spielberg points for having the guts to create a movie unconcerned with plot – particularly in a children’s film. It’s awfully sluggish for about 90 minutes. Then the ending happened which I quite enjoyed.

  2. Loved it. It was everything it needed to be.

    • It feels like a cult film – a movie whose charm will undeniably delight a passionate, though very small, audience.

      However I was shocked by how badly this tanked at the box office. I figured Spielberg’s name would be enough to bring audiences in. I wish it had done better.

  3. The cartoon version had some fun songs. This needed that. Just didn’t have enough of that Spielberg magic. Little girl was cute. But overall, a little boring and slow. 3stars

  4. smilingldsgirl Says:

    Yeah we basically agree on this one but I was left asking questions. Why dont you see the Giants in the city? Why is the BFG the only one with a house or a job? How did he get that job ect? I clearly wasnt that engaged if asking so many questions. I think Paddington did what BFG was going for but much better

    • I can answer your first question. In Roald Dahl’s book, the giants eat the people in the city and Spielberg felt that was too dark. He wanted something more family friendly.

      As far as your other questions, I just assumed it was because he’s a “friendly” giant. The others aren’t so…

      I still think it’s a miss for Spielberg. He’s entitled to a few I guess. 😜😝😂

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        Yeah it just seemed like they existed to make life hard for the BFG and no other reason but maybe that is overthinking it. I suppose if I was super engaged I would have ignored all that.
        He’s totally entitled to a few misses. 2 in a row IMO

  5. I’ve heard that the performances are great and that The BFG’s fart gags can be quite funny. It definitely sounds too light for its length though. Your comment about it being a cult film is right on the nose considering what a small audience it had. Didn’t make a ton of money sadly. Oh well, I’m sure Spielberg will be okay in the long run.

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