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‘The BFG’ Review Roundup: Critics Find Wonder (and Disappointment) in Steven Spielberg’s Roald Dahl Adaptation

The big, friendly movie is in theaters this week.


‘The BFG’

The BFG” is in theaters this week, but Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the classic children’s story by Roald Doahl isn’t exactly being met with big, friendly praise. Indiewire’s Eric Kohn called the film “Spielberg by the numbers — and likely to please viewers looking for just that” in his Cannes review, adding that it “gets the job done and nothing more.”

READ MORE: Cannes Review: ‘The BFG’ is Spielberg By the Numbers

Peter Debruge is more enthusiastic, writing in Variety that “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.”

Spielberg’s take on Dahl story garners a three-star review (out of a possible four) from Slant Magazine, whose Christopher Gray contends that “Spielberg is no stranger to nightmares and dystopia, but his faithful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1982 children’s classic finds the director playing the role of pure enchanter.” After likening “The BFG” to a hangout movie with scant plot, he adds that “however CGI-abetted ‘The BFG’s’ low-stakes wonders are, they nonetheless feel like an implicit rebuke to a blockbuster ecosystem guided by the sequel prerogative. Sometimes a pleasant dream is more than enough.”

READ MORE: Watch: Trailer for Steven Spielberg’s ‘The BFG’ Grabs Hold of Your Imagination

Bilge Ebiri echoes the hangout-narrative sentiment in the Village Voice, but finds that problematic: “Spielberg isn’t a director who thrives in that kind of environment. You can sense his restlessness, too. He’s fascinated, as always, by objects…but when it comes to actual interactions between girl and giant, the energy dissipates.”

Screen International‘s Tim Grierson is similarly lukewarm. “As appealing and likeable as ‘The BFG’ is,” he says, “the movie doesn’t seem particularly groundbreaking or daring when it comes from Spielberg, who is revisiting his major themes here without necessarily reinventing them.”

Sophie Monks Kaufman finds a lot to like in her Little White Lies review, however. She holds that “The BFG’s greatest strength is its simplicity” and that it’s “not a great Roald Dahl adaption but it is a delightful Steven Spielberg movie that proves, once again, that films and dreams are mixed from the same stuff.”

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