Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Deliver us from weasels.

When it comes to movies recently, there's been a lot of talk lately about ruined childhoods. I understand the sentiment, but what a stupid thing to say, right?

First, think about the things that actually ruin a childhood. I don't think a recycled plotline qualifies, you know? And even if it does somehow matter to you, uh, let me give you a quick heads up about that: no one cares about your feelings. At all. But if you happen to find a group of like-minded individuals who, like you, are having their youth diminished by a modern film? Congrats. Though, I'm not sure how your childhood has been ruined, as it's readily apparent you're still living it.

Instead of complaining about some cherished childhood memory seemingly bastardized by Hollywood, you know what you should do? Take a kid to see it. 

Maybe it will save theirs.

I wouldn't say that The BFG falls into precious childhood memory territory or anything, but it was certainly a story I remember fondly. And prior to seeing the film with my almost seven-year old son, I had been reading it aloud night after night. And while he was as rapt with Roald Dahl's tale as I remember being (back in fifth grade when my teacher read it to the class), something strange came over me as the left side of the book got thicker than the right: nothing really happens in this damn story.

Set in the early eighties, The BFG tells a remarkably simple story. Late one night, a young girl named Sophie catches sight of a mysterious giant slinking around the streets of her London orphanage. The giant scoops Sophie up and brings her to his home where the two become fast (and unlikely) friends. Unfortunately, this giant, of the Big Friendly variety, isn't the only of his kind, and resides near a motley crew of man-eating giants, each twice the size of the BFG. When Sophie learns that these gnarly dudes actually eat children, she decides she must intervene. And by that I mean, she's going to tell on them. Uh...that's it.

But guess what? It doesn't matter. While I left the theater half-awake and mildly disappointed, my son bounced out of Auditorium 1 more excited than ever. He didn't care that the film has tanked at the box-office, or how it somehow officially trumpets the fact that Spielberg isn't relevant anymore! Shoot, he didn't even mind that a lot of the creepy/good stuff was inexplicably absent. For an hour and a half, he got to see those scenes he'd been imaging for weeks, faithfully brought to life by movie-magic. And he totally dug that.

This is probably the only way to wake me up when school starts again.
What he probably wouldn't dig, are the Yays and Boos. Admittedly, I was pretty tired during this one, so my notes are a little dicey. Luckily my son Matty was jazzed enough for the both of us. In fact, he said he'd help me write this one if I needed him too (told me to give it a nine, as if I could ever keep it that simple). Oddly enough, now that I've got some questions...he's the one currently sleeping.

Nothing horrifying about this.*jumps out adjacent window*
  • Sophie's initial Oi! to that drunken barfly was pretty impressive.
  • Perhaps shockingly, the 3D was stellar. As was just about every shot of the actual BFG himself.
  • The BFG's stealth maneuvers are totally rad. More of this, please.
  • Perhaps my son's favorite things in the world (at least for a few days), snozzcumbers, frobscottle and whizzpoppers are each brought to life flawlessly. Though, the snozzcumbers looked like something you'd try to pull a flag out of on Double Dare. Ew.
  • My favorite thing? Jemaine Clement.
  • One of the other giants takes a pretty epic shot right to the dinglehoppers, which made the both of us cringe-laugh pretty hard.
  • Man, the dream-tree thing was amazing! The whole upside down puddle thing looked brilliant.
  • Okay, the whole movie builds up to Sophie and the BFG meeting (and convincing) the Queen and it (quietly) delivers. Just having the BFG in a formal setting may be worth the price of admission as it is, but the ensuing whizzpopper jamboree seals the deal. I mean, who doesn't like seeing a dog sputter-fart its way across an elegant ballroom, right? Right?
  • Oh, and the ensuing action scene when the Queen buys what they're selling? Vintage Spielberg awesomeness. Think of the invasion scene at Normandy...except with fifty-foot tall cavemen instead of soldiers. And instead of bullets? Ropes. Lots and lots of ropes.
  • And finally, Mark Rylance as the BFG. I'm not going to lie to you and say that I'd heard of this dude before he broke my heart at last year's Oscar ceremony (I was pulling for Sly), but his performance as the Big Fuzzy Goat (you had to be there) was absolutely perfect. 

Pretty as it is, the whole dream thing gets way too much time.
(just like the book, actually)

  • Sophie doesn't find herself in this mess if any one of the fifty girls sleeping around her has functioning senses. Just saying...
  • I hate veggie-terribles. Clever stuff, BFG, but c'mon, man. You're not helping.
  • Any parent will tell you, kids drop stuff at the worst possible time. Sophie, despite being impossibly composed, reminds us, she's still a kid. 
  • There are a few differences that bothered me...even if just a little. In the book, Sophie spends a lot of time in the BFG's pocket. Here? A lotta shoulder. But the biggest omission? The giants are some evil dudes, repeatedly detailing their taste for certain types of human beans. In the film, the whole devouring terrified children by the handful is totally (though understandably [I guess!]) downplayed. 
  • The BFG has an awesome Dream Lab. Check that. The BFG had an awesome dream lab. Jerks.
  • Hey. Whose clothes are these? ...Uh huh. And what happened to him? ...Ohhhh. 
  • Now in the book the BFG's speech pattern is brilliantly absurd (and impossible to read when you're tired), full of clever puns, mistakes and silly nonsense. But to hear Rylance deliver it (albiet perfectly)? It totally reminds me of Ned Flanders the entire time. All I could think about was Ned Flanders. Stupid sexy Flanders.
  • I'm shocked that the place the giants end up being taken to still has room for them honestly. Considering it's exactly where Luke Skywalker lives!
  • Um, those giants had to be airlifted to their prison. And well, I think we're going to need some BFH's to get that done, not those silly little helicopters they showed us.
  • Matty made us wait all the way to the end of the credits, which I secretly adore. He wanted more of the BFG, even if I looked up (and confirmed) the absence of a stinger. The Boo? He refused to believe me. Can you go ask them? What a punk.
  • And finally, the people directly behind us. First, it doesn't surprise anyone that you have an annoying ring tone, set entirely too loud. That seems to be par for the course. But the fact that each adult answered their phone on more than one occasion? Totally unacceptable. I was actually happy when the guy fell asleep. Until he started snoring like a big, fat, uneducated giant, solely on the planet to ruin the lives of others.
As has been the trend recently, my enjoyment of a film has rested squarely on how much my kid enjoyed it. Does that make me a critic you can trust? Absolutely not. But I wasn't that anyway. What it does make me, however, is a proud dad extremely encouraged to see his son absolutely get lost in a world of fantasy and imagination. 

Dang it.

Which means when they remake it in ten years with a different cast...'ll totally ruin his childhood.


  1. "I mean, who doesn't like seeing a dog sputter-fart its way across an elegant ballroom, right? Right?" - Yep, can't help but agree here. There I was, a 23-year-old dude who likes to think of himself as fairly cultured and mature, laughing like a total loon at farts. Big, green, steamy farts.

    Plus, I'm British! Picturing the Queen in such a scenario is tantamount to treason haha!

    Awesome review man, spot on with all accounts. I liked the movie, but kids will love it. End of story :)

    1. Yeah, that fart scene has become a bit legendary around these I totally agree with you. If you can keep a straight face during that bit...well, that's pretty impressive (if not a touch sad).

      Big, green, steamy farts...uniting us all.

  2. Now I feel stupid, I didn't know this was based on previously written material. I'd never heard of it before the trailers came out. Whoops.

    Great review, I'm sure my son will see it eventually, and I hope he enjoys it.

    1. You didn't know? Hahaha...that's great. I guess you're too young for the BFG aren't you? I guess it's one of those things that I (and likely Disney, it seems) assumed EVERYBODY was familiar with. Guess not...

      Thank you. Hopefully I wasn't too much a jerk about this one, I was just pumped to realize my son hasn't yet grown into the joyless bag of poop his father is at the movies.

  3. I love, love, love this post! Please feature Matty more often - he's brilliant, and you'll make a stellar critic out of him yet! The very fact he knows to wait till the end of credits (although not all the time) just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.
    That said, this movie will be one I'm tempted to miss. The mention of Jemaine Clement got my curiosity, though...
    - Allie

    1. Thank you so much, Allie! If I tell Matty that I put him in here, he'll probably start reading the website...annnnd that could be a problem. Even though this site is for him and my daughter...I'd be good if doesn't read it for the next ten years or so. Too many naughty bits.

      I wouldn't be mad at any one who skipped this one, only because I too didn't think it was anything terribly noteworthy. It's simply 'decent' at best. No rush.

      Hahahaha...I love Clement so much. I almost dies when I got a one word tweet from him. The guy is a genius.