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The BFG (1989)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an earlier adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book than Steven Spielberg's 2016 version. In this animated take, Sophie is kidnapped by a giant cloaked in a grim-reaper cape. A barbaric giant tries to eat Sophie, and later he and other giants massacre a whole school of children (though off-screen). The ending battle between the British and the giants may be scary, but doesn't involve any bloodshed. The ominous music and dark images of dangerous giants may scare younger and more sensitive viewers. And the giants, with war paint, earrings, and darker complexions, could be interpreted as people of color.
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What's the story?
In the Clonkers Home for Girls, young Sophie can't sleep, and she discovers a giant, cloaked man blowing fairy dust into bedrooms. When the ominous figure spies Sophie, he snatches her and takes her to his lair, where she's sure she will be killed. Instead, she's treated to a scrodcumber, a drink that makes her whiz-pop (that is, fart), and a song from the big and cuddly Big Friendly Giant (or BFG). The BFG adopts Sophie and takes her on an adventure through the fearsome world of giant country, the ethereal dream way, and his dream cave, where he stores the dreams he's captured. There, he mixes together bits of dreams and delivers the sweetest ones to children around the world. Loveable BFG gives the very serious Sophie a welcome dose of silliness, and the opportunity to dream. But when the other giants threaten to eat children, Sophie and the BFG hatch a plan to save them with the help of the Queen of England. And believe it or not, it just gets more surreal from there. Along the way, the BFG and Sophie learn about courage, loyalty, and love.
Is it any good?
Based on the book by Roald Dahl, THE BFG has a warm heart, fanciful language and a strong child hero. Dahl is known for his dark themes and fun with words, and both are present in this direct-to-DVD release. The BFG is a surreal adventure designed to release your child's imagination and encourage dreaming, both awake and asleep.
Drawbacks: the story is slow to start and the animation is likely to bore children brought up with Toy Story and Finding Nemo. While some songs are likely to have children spinning around the living room, others are sappy and forgettable, making this production uneven. And the human-eating giants are aboriginal -- with face paint, body piercings, and dark skin. Since all the other characters are white and British, the choice of making the villains dark skinned is conspicuous at best.
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