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Dahl’s Scary ‘The BFG’ Is a Home Video Treat

TIMES STAFF WRITER

“James and the Giant Peach” author Roald Dahl is represented in yet another screen version of his quirky, darkly funny children’s books, this one the just-released home video version of the award-winning animated British film “The BFG.”

Dahl’s tale about a little orphan’s adventures with Big Friendly Giant is not for the faint-hearted. The highly entertaining romp, with its wordplay and outrageous humor, has a gruesome side.

BFG is a good giant whose job is to deliver happy dreams to human “beans,” and Sophie is the mistreated orphan he befriends. After a visit to Dream Country where good dreams and nightmares live, the pair, along with the Queen of England, work to save humans from nine fearsome, child-chomping giants with such descriptive names as Bonecruncher, Bloodbottler and Fleshlumpeater.

Although the ending departs somewhat from Dahl’s original, the film, from Cosgrove Hall Productions, is a whimsical treat, splendidly voiced by veteran British actors (David Jason and Royal Shakespeare Company member Amanda Root play BFG and Sophie). Lots of giggles lighten the scary stuff--wait’ll you see what “whizpopping” is.

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* Just for Kids Home Video, $24.95, widely available. Information: (818) 595-0666.

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Orphans’ Tale: The second and final weekend of “Anny Mae and Asbury,” an uplifting musical about two orphans who discover love, hope and the true meaning of friendship, will be presented by the All God’s Children Performing Arts Conservatory at the Los Angeles Theatre Center Saturday and Sunday.

Inspired by that other orphan musical, “Annie,” the upbeat show is professionally staged and features a cast of more than 50 young performers. Those involved include writer-director Tracy Coley, a musical stage veteran; set designer Leon King (“Living Single”); and costume designer Fontella Boone. The conservatory is headed by stage and screen professionals Felecia Scott, founder and executive director; Coley, co-artistic director; and Wendy Raquel Robinson (“Minor Adjustments”), co-artistic director.

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* Performances are Saturday and Sunday, 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 per adult; $10 per child (age 12 and under). Reservations and information: (213) 733-7003.

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Colorful Concert: With top-notch musicians, a terrific children’s singer, eye-catching nature film footage and light-hearted jokes, “The Great Earth Sing-Along” home video is a delight for young viewers.

Singer John Farrell hosts this concert for kids filled with a rainbow of bright colors, interactive original and traditional songs, animation and animals in the wild. Farrell and his band know their way around folk and pop rhythms and Farrell’s easy manner invites viewers to play and sing along.

Another plus: Part of the video’s profits go to international children’s charity Childreach.

* Color the World Entertainment, 30 minutes, $14.95 plus shipping and handling. (800) JUNGLE-1.

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Muppet Tunes: It will take repeat viewings for children to be able to sing along with the unfamiliar tunes and wordy lyrics in two new musical “Muppet” videos, “Muppet Treasure Island Sing Alongs” and “Things That Fly.” Luckily, there’s Muppet fun to spare.

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“Muppet Treasure Island Sing Alongs,” hosted by Kermit, features two musical numbers from the movie and then the rowdy bunch of buccaneers serves up new songs in comic vignettes.

In “Things That Fly,” Kermit helps a lost alien find its way home as real helicopters, hot-air balloons, airplanes and other flying machine are piloted by Muppet pals.

* Jim Henson Video, $12.99. Widely available.


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