Movies Based on Roald Dahl Books

September 12th, 2011 by

Guess who has a birthday this month? Karen! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAREN!

(She doesn’t like to make a big deal about it, so naturally I make a big deal about it.).

Another awesome person who has a birthday this month? ROALD DAHL! His birthday was on September 13th, and he would have turned 95 tomorrow. As I’ve mentioned many times before, he’s one of my favorite authors. One of the hardest questions to answer, EVER: Which Roald Dahl book do you like the most? Well… I’m gonna avoid answering that, like I always do, by focusing on mini-reviews for some of the movies based on his kids’ books:

The BFG (1989)
Rating: ★★★☆☆

While there are quite a few differences from the book (especially at the end!), I’m glad that this was done with animation and not live-action. It was made in 1989 (when an old fogey like me was still a little kid), and I think we’re due for a new movie adaptation! Maybe this time around they’ll make it live-action and call up Ian McKellan (who plays Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings series) as the BFG.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Rating: ★★★★★

Don’t let the title (or the old-fashioned poster) fool you — even though Willy Wonka is in the title, Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe are very important in this musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! One of my favorite scenes is when Willy Wonka sings “Pure Imagination” as the kids enter the chocolate-mixing garden room. My only pet peeve: this version is missing the nut-cracking squirrels, but I’ll let it slide since everything else about this version was just scrumdidilyumptious! Oh, but in real life: Oompa Loompas are kind of creepy.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Well, the squirrels are in this movie! And the bright visuals are stunning — exactly the wacky, zany color pallette I always imagined Charlie and Wonka’s factory would have. While I didn’t love Johnny Depp’s performance as Willy Wonka, all of the actors who played the kids were great — I actually wanted to be Violet Beauregarde or Veruca Salt, and they’re horrible! Oh, and Oompa Loompas in 2005 are still kind of creepy.

Danny, the Champion of the World (1989)
Rating: ★★★★☆

This is also another older movie that you’ll only be able to get on DVD. (Or maybe even VHS. Don’t know what that is? Ask your parents! Ha!) There are a few minor changes, but it mostly matches the book. Bonus: Our beloved Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) once played the despicable greedy Victor Hazell!

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Rating: ★★★★★

You should definitely check this one out. Then, come back to Kidsmomo and watch our KidsmomoMO movie review to see if you agree with our take! Even though it’s quite different from the book, I think this stop-motion animated puppet movie is definitely worth your time!

Warning: KidsmomoMO movie review includes singing, which is not nearly as enjoyable as “Pure Imagination” — but 300% more comically bad.

James and the Giant Peach
Rating: ★★★★★

This movie gets the same 5-star rating as Fantastic Mr. Fox — it’s fun, lively, and even I loved it! (And I have a serious phobia of giant bugs.)

Bonus: The filmmakers made the peach-attacking sharks mechanical, and making something mechanical automatically makes it 301% scarier.

Matilda (1996)
Rating: ★★★★☆

I was realllllly psyched when this movie came out, so maybe that’s why I didn’t like it that much when I first watched it.  My expectations were as high as Mrs. Trunchbull’s hideous knee socks. Anyway, I was a little disappointed at first, but in recent years I’ve re-watched it and enjoyed it much more. It’s scenes like this one that really deliver:

The Witches (1990)
Rating: ★★★★★

While I was super excited to see Matilda, I was terrified to watch The Witches. Because, well… I figured the witches would be scary. And they were! But in a good way… like “scared on Halloween night” scared. Oh, I hope they play it on TV around Halloween again this year!

Rumor has it that an adaptation of The Twits is coming out next year. (My reaction: YESSSSSS!!!) But what about The Magic Finger, or George’s Marvellous Medicine? Sigh. Maybe someday.

Meanwhile, which of these movies is your favorite? What did you like/dislike about them?

— Nancy

Whenever Nancy’s feeling tired or sick but knows she just has to push on, she thinks of “the Brucie chant” from Matilda.

More about Nancy »

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