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THE BFG: 4 STARS. “Spielberg infuses a sense of wonder in every frame.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.39.24 AM“The BFG,” new kid’s film from Steven Spielberg and based on a much-loved book by Roald Dahl, has so little to do with today’s kids entertainment it feels as though it’s a relic from another time, a singular holdover from a day before Minions gurgled and everything was awesome.

The story begins at a London orphanage. Insomniac Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is a preteen urchin awake at 3 AM when she hears a noise in the street. Rather than stay safe in her bed the youngster breaks her three rules. “Never get out of the bed. Never go to the window. Never look behind the curtain.” Looking out into the street she locks eyes with a giant (Mark Rylance), a taller-than-tall man with a shock of white hair and hands the size of bulldozer scoops.

Realizing he has been seen, he grabs the girl, taking her back to Giant Country before she can tell anyone about his existence. “There’d be a great rumpus dumpus,” he says, “if you went on the tele-tele bunkum box and the radio squeakers.” Sophie soon gets that he isn’t going to harm her, that he is The BFG, Big Friendly Giant. “You think because I’m a giant that I’m a man eating canny-bal?” Unfortunately in Giant Land the neighbours are less friendly. Goliaths with names like Butcherboy and Gizzardgulper have a taste for young humans, and it soon becomes BFG’s job to keep Sophie safe. When the threat becomes too great this odd couple asks the most powerful person in Britain for help.

“The BFG” is a fantastical story that respects its audience. Spielberg understands not every second of the movie needs to be tweaked to a high, irritating squeal. Instead he immerses the audience in a new world, taking his time to set the scene and introduce the characters. Frenetic it is not. The director goes for a more classic approach, gently and methodically laying out the story. State of the art effects mix-and-mingle with old-fashioned storytelling to produce a beguilingly imaginative tale of friendship, family and flatulence. That’s right, like all great kid’s movies “The BFG” is a gas, including inventive and funny flatulence jokes.

Small children may find the film’s opening moments to be the stuff of bad dreams. The image of BFG’s giant hand coming through the window to snatch Sophie from her bed is memorable. It’s a timeless image of nightmarish terror, but may keep the kids awake at night.

The young’uns, however, will likely love The BFG’s unusual way of speaking. A Giant patois that sounds like Pig Latin filtered through Olde English, it’s addictive so expect the kids to be buckswashling and sqiubbling around the house for weeks to come. I’ve already introduced the term veggiterrible into my daily routine.

Rylance and Barnhill are an engaging pair—for much of the film they are onscreen alone—but the star of “The BFG” is Spielberg whose sense of wonder is infused in every frame.

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