THE BFG – Review by Susan Granger

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Blending live action and computer animation, Steven Spielberg has adapted Roald Dahl’s fantastical tale, featuring Oscar-winner Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) as the titular character, The Big Friendly Giant. Scripted by the late Melissa Matheson (“E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”) and directed by Spielberg, it’s set in London in the early 1980s and revolves around 10 year-old orphan, Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), a lonely insomniac who – at 3 a.m. – spies a 24-ft.-tall giant lurking about the cobblestone streets, collecting and dispensing phosphorescent dreams to unsuspecting sleepers. Read on...

She sees him and he sees her. Reaching his hand through an open window, the grandfatherly-looking BFG gently plucks Sophie out of bed because – if word got out that giants roamed the city – that would end their nocturnal visits.

So the BFG whisks terrified Sophie off to Giant Country, where sinister Fleshlumpeater (voiced by Jermaine Clement) and Bloodbottler (voiced by Bill Hader), constantly bully him.

While the BFG sticks to a vegetarian diet of slimy Snozzcumbers, his colossal cohorts are “cannybulls” (cannibals), often kidnapping young “human beans.” Even though the BFG hides her in his cave, Sophie is in constant danger.

The only answer – she believes – is to seek assistance from Queen Elizabeth II (Penelope Wilton) in Buckingham Palace. At that point, their adventure really comes alive.

Much amusement emanates from the BFG’s whimsical dialect known as “gobblefunk,” filled with garbled malapropisms.

There’s also a lot of farting. The BFG deplores burping but celebrates flatulence, which he calls “whizzpopping,” a gastric reaction stimulated by the upside-down bubbles in Frobscottle, the fermented Snozzcumber beverage, which he eagerly shares not only with Her Majesty but also her Welsh corgis.

While newcomer Ruby Barnhill is certainly spunky, much credit should go to Mark Rylance’s astute performance, characterized by alienation and affection. But one can only wonder about the different comedic pace that would have been set by Robin Williams, Spielberg’s original casting choice.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The BFG” is an entertaining, escapist 8. Good? Yes. Great? N

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.