ReelBob: ‘The BFG’
By Bob Bloom
“The BFG” is a marvelous and dreamlike movie with a heart as big as its gentle main character.
The movie, based on a book by Roald Dahl, is a modern-day fairy tale about the unlikely friendship between a giant and a plucky little girl named Sophie.
The film is a wonderful magical experience that fits right in director Steven Spielberg’s wheelhouse as a storyteller.
With its humor, action and moments of awe and frights, this live action-CGI combo hearkens back to the early days of such classical Disney animated features as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Pinocchio.”
The movie’s heart and soul is the motion-capture performance of Academy Award-winner Mark Rylance as the Big Friendly Giant, who collects dreams and who, unlike his larger counterparts, refuses to eat people.
Rylance’s BFG is a gawky, string bean of a fellow with flappy ears that move in the breeze, eyes that could melt the coldest heart and a smile that brightens a cloudy day.
He also is prone to mangling the English language, calling people “human beans” or referring to the other giants — who continually bully this amiable soul — “murderful.”
And his warm relationship with the resourceful, orphaned Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) propels the movie.
Rylance’s expressive, kind and big-hearted performance overcomes most of the movie’s flaws.
“The BFG” is a bit too slow and too cautious. Spielberg and its screenwriter, the late Melissa Mathison, failed to capture what most fairy tales do best — a sense of fright and darkness to give the kids in the audience some goose bumps and keep the adults totally engrossed.
The movie’s best sequences center on the BFG running through the London streets, using his massive cloak as camouflage to hide in plain sight.
The movie’s biggest laughs come when Sophie and the BFG visit Buckingham Palace to enlist the aid of the Queen to rid the land of the man-eating giants.
The usual air of royal British reserve is definitely on display, when the BFG shares his favorite drink with the queen, her entourage and her dogs.
The drink — in which the bubbles flow down instead of up — create a laugh-filled, gaseous reaction that youngsters will embrace.
“The BFG” is a solid, family-friendly and entertaining feature. The problem is that the movie lacks the scares necessary to elevate it to the Grimm standard.
It may sound ironic, but “The BFG” is too friendly for its own good.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.
3 stars out of 4
(PG), perilous action, rude humor, scary moments