I’ve been a fan of Roald Dahl since I was a child. I delighted in James and the Giant Peach (the book, not the movie) and in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the movie based on the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which coincidentally celebrated the 40th anniversary of its release yesterday).
Dahl is a creative storyteller and it’s clear that stories like The BFG evolved from the grand bedtime tales he told his own children. Writing in almost a language of his own, you can almost hear his own children giggling as he read them his stories.
So why is it important to read this before you take your children to see The BFG?
Because in an era of action packed, goofy-dialogues, silly-voiced characters and stories, your kids might find this film a bit of a radical departure. Here’s why.
Thoughts After The BFG Movie
At 1 hour and 57 minutes, this is a long movie by most kid movie standards. And it feels every bit of it. It’s a slow-moving story with most of the dialogue between Sophie, a young orphan girl, and the Big Friendly Giant (or BFG, for short).
That’s right. A lot of talking and not much action. The dialogue is fun and witty and expertly acted by Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance. But when I found myself feeling a little restless, I knew kids must be suffering a bit too.
The other thing to note is that the story is a very linear one. There’s no back story or side story. The movie plays as if you’re starting at the beginning of a storybook and reading it straight through to the end. A style that seems to work well for, well, storybooks. For kids movies, not so much.
But to be fair, I felt like I couldn’t really review the movie without exploring the foundation of the story.
Thoughts After The BFG Book
I had the best of intentions but didn’t end up reading it until last night – several days after I had seen the movie.
Incidentally, it took me about two hours to read the book cover to cover, pretty close to the actual runtime of the movie. And the story flowed and kept me engaged – perhaps because I had seen the movie.
I felt like the film stayed very true to the book with much of the film dialogue being lifted directly from it. But the story did deviate in several areas for reasons I can’t understand. In fact, it’s some of those deviations that seemed to slow the movie down.
Overall Review of The BFG
This is a great adaptation of the book and I recommend the film for anyone who had read and loved it.
But if you haven’t, expect a long movie with most of the action coming in the last third of the film. And expect a little confusion about some of the story points, mainly about the storage of dreams.
A great way to clear up the confusion? Encourage your kid to read the book!
My son Evan, who is 9 1/2 years old, liked the movie but also thought it was a bit slow. He recommends it for ages 7 and up.
I also enjoyed the movie, which was ludicrous and sweet, like most Dahl stories, but recommend it for ages 8 and up simply due to the length and pacing of the movie.
I was invited to an advanced screening of this movie to facilitate this review. There are also affiliate links in this post.