Is 'The BFG' too scary for your little ones?

Posted July 7, 2016

Oscar (R) winner Mark Rylance stars as the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) in Disney's fantasy-adventure, THE BFG, directed by Steven Spielberg based on the best-selling book by Roald Dahl, which opens in theaters nationwide on July 1. (Deseret Photo)

GIANT COUNTRY — The adaptation of the much-loved Roald Dahl book “The BFG” is now in theaters and I have to echo the sentiments of my fellow critic, Travis Poppleton, who said, “'The BFG’ captured a really sweet story about one of my favorite cinematic relationships of the year.”

I really enjoyed this movie and am actually looking forward to seeing it again. It’s magical and beautiful in so many ways, but how is it for the little ones?

Here’s a look at what parents can plan on seeing in “The BFG” and if they think their 5, 4, 3, or even 2-year-old will be scared, bored, or have the time of their lives.

I actually took my 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son with me to the movie and I’ll try to cover each section as these two reacted.

Will the little ones get it?

The story of “The BFG” isn’t complicated, but it’s a bit more nuanced than some other family fare like “The Minions” or “Hotel Transylvania,” for example. With that said, both of my kids managed to follow along as much as they needed to in order to enjoy the film.

As we drove home I had to answer some questions along the lines of, “What happened to the little boy who used to wear the jacket?” And “Why did they jump into the water?” But overall the story is simple enough that your little tykes will follow along and you’ll still be intrigued.

Will the little ones be bored?

“The BFG” has a fair amount of exposition and dialogue, but the moments of action, humor, and the beauty of the visuals kept my kids engaged. Even in the slower moments there is enough going on visually on the screen that young children will still be enamored with what’s happening.

Is there much adult humor?

Some family films like to take the route of inserting adult jokes in that will hopefully fly over the kids’ heads. Personally I’m not a fan of these tricks and much prefer the recent examples of “Finding Dory” or “Zootopia,” that kept the humor clever and not crass in hopes of pulling one over on the kids.

There really isn’t adult humor in the film that you need to worry about with your kids, but that also doesn’t mean it’s just a lot of kiddy humor either. I believe both parents and kids will enjoy the tone.

There is some “potty humor,” but you really have to see it in the context of the film because both my kids and I were laughing uncontrollably during that scene.

Is it too scary?

This is a question a lot of parents will have and was my main concern as well. While “The BFG” is about a young girl and her relationship with a friendly giant, that element is surrounded by nine man-eating giants looking for every opportunity to gobble up any human being they see.

The giants can be scary for the kiddos and admittedly both of mine either covered their eyes or buried their face into my chest on one or two occasions, but it never got to be too much. While these giants are “man-gobbling cannibals,” they’re also silly and funny, which takes off some of the edge.

The “scary” factor will be the one thing that may keep the toddlers away from the theater, but it truly depends on the toddler. If your kids saw the latest version of “The Jungle Book” and were OK then they’ll have no issue whatsoever with this. If they got scared during “Zootopia,” then this may be a bit too much for them.


My kids had a great time at “The BFG” and couldn’t stop talking about it. In the words of my 3-year-old, “It was kind of scary, but not too bad.” And that’s how I feel. For the most part you should feel comfortable taking the whole brood to the theater to check out this heart-warming and charming film.

“The BFG” is rated PG for action/peril, some scary moments and brief rude humor.

John has been writing about movies, news, sports and pretty much anything awesome for more than five years. John is the co-host of the Flix Junkies podcast and will always entertain you with his stories.


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