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also known as “The Big Friendly Giant,” “BFG: Big Friendly Giant,” “El buen amigo gigante,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for action/peril, some scary moments and brief rude humor.

Reviewed by: Curtis McParland

Moral Rating: Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Kids Family
Genre: Kids Family Fantasy Adaptation
Length: 1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release: 2016
USA Release: July 1, 2016 (wide—3,200+ theaters)
DVD: November 29, 2016
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Relevant Issues

orphans in the Bible

giants in the Bible

evil brothers

friends who live together

nightmares and other dreams


FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring Bill HaderBloodbottler
Rebecca HallMary
Mark Rylance … The BFG
Jemaine Clement … Fleshlumpeater
Matt Frewer … General #2
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson … Actor (Ólafur Ólafsson)
Rafe Spall …
Penelope Wilton … The Queen
Adam Godley …
Ruby Barnhill … Sophie
Michael Adamthwaite …
See all »
Director Steven Spielberg
Producer Amblin Entertainment
Walt Disney Pictures
See all »

Yet another book from children’s author Roald Dahl gets the big screen treatment in Steven Spielberg’s take on The BFG. The story revolves around a precocious young orphan named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who is whisked away by a nameless giant (voiced by Mark Rylance) one dark and dreary night in the city of London. However, this particular giant doesn’t intend to harm Sophie. He merely scooped her up, because he was afraid she would tell everyone that a giant was roaming the streets of London, causing him to be hunted down. Of course, Sophie is frightened, at first, but the giant’s warm personality begins to grow on her, and she eventually gives him the name “BFG” or Big Friendly Giant. BFG shares with Sophie that a young child once called him “The Big Friendly Giant,” in the past. But there are other giants in Giant Country that aren’t nearly as friendly.

BFG and Sophie begin to form a strong friendship, but the other bigger and meaner giants discover that BFG has brought a human into their land and are now bent on having a little snack. BFG may be smaller than the rest of the bunch, but he has a much larger heart and has an endearing companion in Sophie, as they seek peace and restoration in the fantastical Giant Country.

“The BFG” is a fun, magical family-friendly adventure and a welcome return from director Steven Spielberg. Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography is beautifully executed (as always), and Michael Khan’s editing is near flawless, as we weave through the grass filled lands of Giant Country. The visuals are stunning, and John Williams does not disappoint with a whimsical, touching musical score. Mark Rylance fits the role of BFG very well, and the giants, in general, are near life-like, thanks to the continuing advance of CGI technology. However, the screenplay feels weak, at times, and the story in general does not flow quite as smoothly as I had hoped, as some small plot holes arose and other elements are not clearly explained. This is not Spielberg’s best work, in terms of directing, but it is still a fun adventure that is well-executed on a technical level.

There is very minimal content for concern in “The BFG.” There isn’t any sexual content, and the closest we even get is seeing a shirtless, animated giant. There is no profanity, but there is some mild name calling, including multiple uses of the word “runt” and a “curse you” comment. BFG bungles up words frequently and comes up with his own exclamations. The film isn’t violent, but does have its perilous moments and bits of action. One giant attempts to eat a child, but does not succeed. We find out that it was just a dream. The bigger giants have some violent names like Bone Cruncher, Blood Bottler, etc., and BFG gets bullied and pushed around by them whenever they cross paths. They like to toss him around and one giant gets hit in the groin when BFG is thrown directly at him. The giants later smash things in his home in search of Sophie, but BFG later wards them off with a form of fireplace poker, lightly burning a couple of them in the process. There is mention of a young boy being eaten by a giant, Sophie jumps off a balcony trusting BFG to catch her, and buckets of water get tossed at giants. ***SPOILER*** Sophie devises a plan to remove the mean giants from Giant Country and gets the British military involved. We see them carry muskets and aim at BFG. The mean giants eventually get tied up and airlifted to a secluded island. They are dropped in the ocean (they loathe water) and get bombarded by a fruit that they absolutely hate. ***END SPOILER***

There is no drug content and no alcohol consumption on screen. However, we do see a few drunken men stumble out of a pub late at night. Sophie reprimands them while yelling out of her window. There is some light rude humor, as BFG has a favorite fizzy drink of his where the bubbles float down instead of up. After taking a swig, he has what he calls a “whiz popper” and shoots up into the air, and we see a green gas protruding from him. This happens one more time, but at the queen’s home. They all end up having a group “whiz popper.” In the distance, two men, in particular, shoot up into the air and lose their trousers in the process.

Being a fantasy film, “The BFG” contains some magical elements. BFG’s “job” is to capture dreams from a magical forest and collect both good and bad dreams. He has different dream potions and sometimes combines numbers of dreams together. BFG walks through the streets of London and blows these dreams into various homes with a form of trumpet. People inhale the dreams while they’re asleep. Although BFG collects bad dreams, as well, he doesn’t use them to hurt anyone but to help them. One example is giving the bully giants a bad dream to help them realize how mean they have been. “Dreams are quick on the outside, but long on the inside,” says BFG. There is a reference to “the witching hour” and another character utters, “Let there be no forgiveness,” which may be somewhat problematic for some viewers.

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” —1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV)

And BFG applies the above verse well, since he wants to have no part in the other giants’ wrongdoings. He sticks to his morals and finds good, better company within his relationship with Sophie. The BFG applauds friendship, trust, and courage as our two heroines bond closer together throughout their adventure, learn to trust one another, and face even the most perilous of situations. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 shares “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” This helps us further define Sophie’s character, as she encourages BFG by telling him he speaks beautifully, despite his small speech impediment. She also encourages BFG to stand up to the mean giants.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. —Deuteronomy 31:6

Fear, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Little Sophie may be the most daring and bravest one in this adventure, but The BFG shares that, no matter how big or small one may be, he or she can make a great difference in this world and be a hero. Our heroines stay strong, courageous, and persevere. “The BFG” is an enchanting family-friendly film that I recommend for around ages 7+, since smaller ones may be frightened by some of the large giants and scary situations. After all, this is a fantasy film. “The BFG” may have light, murky magical elements, some brief rude humor, and even feel a tad dark and dreary at times, but it shines a bright light on the value of friendship and coming to the aid of those in need.

Violence: Mild / Language: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—This is an excellent film, based on British writer Roald Dahl’s 1982 children’s classic. I was impressed with the special effects and depth of the story. Although there are some slow moments, due to the building of the relationship between BFG and Sophie, there is also a lot of action. Sophie is a strong-willed child who lives in an orphanage. Her bed is near the window, and she struggles a lot with insomnia. BFG, who we learn stands for Big Friendly Giant, kidnaps Sophie out of her bed and takes her to his world. BFG’s pastime is collecting dreams, both good and bad, in glass bottles, which he can give to others using his special horn.

BFG is a smaller giant that the others bully and call the Runt and is not evil like the others. He tries to hide Sophie, but they recognize her smell, and therefore try to catch her. Sophie then comes up with a plan to save them all, including other children who are stolen from the beds by the giants. Both BFG and Sophie are unwanted and alone, which pulls them together in the story. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Kathy Pj, age 56 (Canada)
Positive—While it’s far from a classic, I found “The BFG” to be a good, solid family movie. It does drag at times, and some scenes go on longer than they should (almost to the point of boring). But, the production design (particularly the depiction of London, which, in my opinion, was a cross between “Mary Poppins” and the Harry Potter areas at Universal Orlando) was fantastic, and Rylance and Barnhill were terrific together. A few light messages on friendship, moving on from the past and standing up for yourself and others.

Parents should be aware that, in (apparently) true spirit to the book, there is a bit of “fart” humor (called “whizpopping”), particularly toward the end. Director Steven Spielberg does deserve props for making the giants, Giant country and action scenes not too scary. No “jump” scenes and no real frightening images to be seen. The only thing that may frighten little ones is a quick nightmare where Sophie is swallowed by a giant (cartoonishly). Any real action or peril is of the slapstick variety. And any magic seen here is of the fairy tale variety with no spiritual connotations.

Overall, this is a movie kids and parents safely can see together (save for very sensitive little ones).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Blake Wilson, age 21 (USA)
Positive—Exceeded my expectations! I’d heard this was a beautifully made movie with a boring plot, so I was delighted when I watched it and found myself completely immersed in the story. My 7 year old loved it in his own little way, but this movie is also deep enough for adults to really enjoy. There was a group of four older ladies watching this movie in our theater, along with several young children and moms. Everyone loved the movie equally, but in their own special way. ***SPOILER*** My only words of caution have already been told by others, so I’ll just clue the curious adults into a couple of details they won’t want to miss in the movie: there is a scene in which the girl puts on a red coat, and later you will learn that it is the coat of a dear friend (of the BFG) who died. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Chrystal, age 39 (USA)
Neutral—This movie just about put my whole family to sleep—children and adults. It was slow paced with very little adventure. The movie quality was excellent, and there were some funny moments (BFG is quite funny when he speaks), but, generally, it was just slow and quiet. I found no objectionable content. The theme of friendship runs throughout and bravery. I would advise not spending money on this film at the movies. What until it comes out on DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Miranda, age 41 (USA)
Negative—This movie made my wife fall asleep, but, to be fair, she sleeps a lot in boring movies. I was anxious to leave this slow paced and very boring movie. Halfway through, I had to walk out and go into the lobby to get out of this ridiculously slow paced flick, like I was trapped in some cage. Speilberg should not waste his time with this stuff. I could not stand the looks of that old man cartoon guy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Robert, age 69 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was amazing, I really enjoyed it! I could watch it with my 18 year old sister and my younger sister who is 8 years old.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Holly, age 13 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed this film. I read the book before I watched it, and, I must say, though it isn't EXACTLY like the book, this movie still managed to execute its story very well. The actors were very good, and the CGI was impressive. I really recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Phoenix, age 16
Movie Critics
…Steven Spielberg creates a landscape of astonishments in “The BFG”… about as good as cinema can do these days… [5/5]
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
…a pleasing and sweet-natured adventure… Spielberg gets the tone just right…
Stephanie Zacharek, Time magazine
…Spielberg and Rylance’s delicate touch proves hugely charming… “The BFG” is big friendly giant of a film from a director who knows how to make films on that note and on that scale. With boldness and sweep…
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)
…Mr. Spielberg uses digital wizardry to throw dreams of friendship and adventure on the big screen, and what marvelous dreams they are—funny, grotesque and tender, as well as spectacular. …It’s an effervescent charmer.
Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
…The film’s technical achievements may be complex, but its emotions are facile. …
Richard Brody,·The New Yorker
…uneven, but finally winning, results… The filmmakers have tweaked Dahl’s original finale to satisfy conventional notions of what constitutes a happy ending. … [2½/4]
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
…No matter how fantastical the tale (and it gets pretty out-there at points), this splendid Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation makes it possible for audiences of all ages to wrap their heads around one of the unlikeliest friendships in cinema history, resulting in the sort of instant family classic “human beans” once relied upon Disney to deliver. …
Peter Debruge, Variety
…Mr. Spielberg has always been a skilled manipulator of feeling. What’s startling here is how clumsy and uncertain his attempts seem. What’s missing, abotve all, is the wild, palpable sense of excitement… There are delights on display, but not many surprises. …
A.O. Scott, The New York Times
…“The BFG” is one of the worst movies of Steven Spielberg’s career… Mark Rylance is a strong, respected actor who deserves so much better than this. …It all feels like a big waste in the end. …[1½/5]
Matthew Parkinson, The Escapist

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