The BFG

Movie review by
Jill Murphy, Common Sense Media
The BFG Movie Poster Image
 Popular with kidsParents recommend
Sweet Dahl book adaptation has big heart, big scares.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 115 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 35 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Like the book, the movie teaches kids about not judging others by their appearances, about the importance of friendship (no matter how unlikely it is), and the power of speaking up and asking for help. They may also learn about Nicholas Nickleby, the Charles Dickens book that Sophie is reading when she's taken by the BFG.

Positive Messages

Strong themes of courage, perseverance, and empathy. Shares the book's themes about friends coming in all shapes and sizes, how even one or two individuals can make a difference, and how everyone needs someone to believe in them. Sophie and the BFG's friendship also explores how friends should stand up for each other, and their interaction with the queen reveals how you shouldn't be afraid to ask for help, even if it seems daunting.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The BFG and Sophie are wonderful friends to each other. They protect, listen to, and help each other overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The queen believes Sophie and the BFG and agrees to help them. Sophie is courageous and determined.

Violence & Scariness

The movie's tone is dark, and there's plenty of peril/danger. Sophie -- who's an orphan (she says bluntly that her parents are dead) -- is snatched away by the BFG and immediately taken to Giant Country (she screams the whole time). After she's kidnapped, Sophie believes she's going to be eaten as the Giant sautees dinner (and she lands in the skillet). She later realizes she's safe with him -- but the other nine giants are indeed human-eaters. These giants hunt for Sophie and destroy the BFG's home. They also hurt him in several tense scenes that put Sophie (and the BFG) in precarious positions as she attempts to hide from them. The BFG plants a nightmare in Sophie's mind when she sleeps just so she'll believe him about how truly bad the other giants really are. In one scene, a truck hits a giant's private parts. At one point, a giant nearly does eat Sophie, but she's saved at the last minute. The British Army invades Giant Country and subdues each of the "bad" giants. Several references to the last child who stayed with the BFG, whom the other Giants found and ate.

Sexy Stuff
Language

Insults like "you're a disgrace to giants," and some silly potty humor as a special fizzy drink causes everyone (even the queen) to "whizzpop" (fart).

Consumerism

Nothing in the movie, but there's tie-in merchandise for all Disney movies, so expect apparel, games, toys, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Men who appear drunk walk around the streets below the orphanage, and Sophie yells at them. The giants drink a green fizzy drink called frobscottle, in which the bubbles go down instead of up. Although it's supposedly made from fermented snozzcumber, t's not alcoholic, seeing as Sophie is allowed to drink it (and so does the queen of England).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The BFG -- which was directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Roald Dahl's beloved fantasy book -- is about a Big Friendly Giant (BFG) and Sophie, the young orphan he first snatches and later befriends. The movie has a dark tone, and tense moments of peril and danger punctuate the story from the beginning. After Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is kidnapped, she expects the BFG (Mark Rylance) to cook her for dinner, and later she's hunted by the other giants, who love to eat children; these giants are destructive, loud, and scary when they're on screen. In one scene, the BFG plants a nightmare in Sophie's mind when she sleeps just so she'll believe him about how truly bad the other giants really are. Death is also referenced in not-so-subtle ways: Sophie bluntly states that her parents are dead, and the BFG alludes to another human child he used to be friends with who was clearly eaten by the other giants. While the scares are enough to keep the littlest audience members away (or at least with their eyes firmly covered), this tale about discovering friendship and family in the unlikeliest places also offers sweetness, humor, and heart -- as well as themes of courage, empathy, and perseverance. (Oh, and some fart jokes.)

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byReviewerUK July 25, 2016

Not for the young ones

This film is expertly done. I cannot fault the cinematics, and from the very beginning your attention is captivated, but this film sadly lacked the light-hearte... Continue reading
Parent of a 10 and 14-year-old Written bytinyjanechi July 5, 2016

Very Different from the Book

If you read the book, you might be a little disappointed in the movie. As usual, the movie adaptation left out so many details and even a few major elements.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAllyIzzieCoolz23 July 27, 2016

The movie we have been waiting for.

Wow. This story really hit my heart. The animation is amazing (OMG, just LOOK at the pictures in the book!) The heart of the story is PURE GOLD, and the actors... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byRoanstone July 5, 2016

Another Charming Film

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this Spielberg film adaptation, but after about fifteen minutes into the movie, I really started to like it. It's... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE BFG, Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), a young orphan with insomnia, spends her evenings either walking the halls of the orphanage or reading books well into the wee hours of the night. On one of these restless nights, she finds herself face-to-face with "the boogie monster." He kidnaps her and takes her to live on Giant Island; as a result, Sophie spends the beginning of the movie terrified and angry -- she's scared of being eaten and then angry when she learns she’s expected to live on Giant Island for the rest of her life. But gradually Sophie and the "monster" get to know each other, and Sophie learns that he's actually a Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance), who walks the streets at night placing good dreams into children's rooms. As their friendship unfolds, the BFG shows caring and kindness toward Sophie -- and they work together to try to rid Giant Island of the rest of its scary, bullying residents, all of whom are eager to eat the "bean" (aka "child") that the BFG brought home with him. Sophie and the BFG power through dangerous encounters, terrifying close calls, and sheer hilarity as they discover a deep and truly unique friendship.

Is it any good?

The magic, fantasy, and eventual pure sweetness between the two central characters is nothing short of heartwarming. The BFG has many opportunities to highlight what being a good friend is all about -- and what it means to have strong values. Sophie, a wise-beyond-her-years orphan, is played incredibly well by Barnhill. She's fully developed as a character, but her maturity is lovingly balanced with her regular, child-like ways. This is a welcome change, since "mature kids" in movies and TV shows can often seem sassy and unrelatable.

The visuals live up to director Steven Spielberg's reputation; as always, he has a knack for bringing fantastical elements and creatures into everyday life. As for the BFG himself, Rylance will win audiences over from his first (of many) teary-eyed smile. His giant warmth and compassion, his bumbling language and missteps, and his grit and determination will leave every kid -- and parent -- wanting a BFG of their own.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes Sophie such a strong character in The BFG. Do you think she's a good role model? Why? Can you think of other movies featuring strong female characters?

  • What was the scariest part of the movie? Did the scary parts make the movie sadder or more fun? Why? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • What did this movie teach you about friendship? What specific things happened that were examples of empathy, courage, and perseverance? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Why do you think the BFG didn't eat "beans" like the other giants? In what other ways is he different from the other giants?

  • Kids: If you read the book, how do you think the movie compares? Were there scenes in the movie that looked different in your mind? Do you like reading a book before it gets made into a movie?

Movie details

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