Big Fish

"Very Good"

Big Fish Review


Tim Burton's Big Fish tells the story about a man, Edward Bloom (Albert Finney), whose life is best told in the context of tall-tales and glorified fables. When looking at our own lives, it's easy to see that all of us have a Bloom-type somewhere in our families. You know, the person that's able to take the complexities of life and turn them into the wild fantasies appreciated mostly by the young at heart.

In the film, Bloom's grown son, Will (Billy Crudup) is tired of the imaginative stories his dad has told him since he was young, and decides to only communicate with his mom (Jessica Lange). But, as the elder Bloom approaches the end of his life, Will puts aside his differences and chooses to find the truth behind all the stories in hopes of learning more about his dad. The only way Will knows how to find the answers he seeks is to retell the stories and let us be the judge.

The tales Will recounts begin in a small Alabama town where a young Edward (Ewan McGregor) saves the townsfolk from a giant named Karl, whom he later befriends and joins on a wild journey to find a purpose in life. Their adventures take them over the river and through the woods to a one-field town called Spectre, where the shoeless inhabitants dance in the grass and worship the words of a goofy poet (Steve Buscemi). Edward and Karl do not find their destiny in Spectre, so the shoeless pair joins the circus.

At the next stop on their journey, Karl and Edward end up under the big top. While at the circus, Edward finds the woman he wants to marry, and when he does, time suddenly stops. Amos, the ringleader (Danny Devito) claims to know this woman; yet, he is unwilling to share this information with Edward. For the next three years, Edward is shot at, stabbed, and trampled for Amos's pleasure, but is also rewarded with the smallest details of his wife's identity. Edward and Sandy (Alison Lohman) eventually meet, and the elaborate fables continue with the details of their wedding, life together, and the birth of their son, Will.

In the telling of these elaborate tales, Burton has created his most quintessential fantasy to date where the story is an equal to the film's look. The dreamy and imaginative visuals of Big Fish are definitely on par with those of Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, but what distinguishes his effort here is that visual world and the fantasies told by Edward are a complete complement to each other. The magical and inventive set pieces - a fog-shrouded forest with flying spiders; a circus ring where time stops and speeds up; a town set in the middle of a grassy pasture - all work to reinforce Edward's fantasy life.

Burton's film is not just a treasure trove of imagination; it's also infused with a cast of characters brimming with life and personality: a 10-foot awkwardly structured yet gentle giant; multi-personality circus performers; a glass-eyed fortune telling witch (Helena Bonham Carter); conjoined Korean twin night club singers; and one humongous catfish.

Despite all of the wonderful things Burton accomplishes with this fairytale, I couldn't buy into the father/son reconciliation storyline. Right from the beginning, we're told that it's hard to separate the facts from the fiction of Edward's life. It raises many doubts about who this man really is, and I found it hard to reconcile the stories. When the film reaches its quasi-sentimental conclusion, I felt nothing for the dying man. The ending is meant to shed some light on what was real, and what was not, but more than that, the contrivance is just an easy way to add a fairytale conclusion to this fable.

It's clear Burton fancies the fantasy more than he does a meaningful story. Like the stories told to us by our families' own Edward Bloom, you just accept the tales as the consequences of a wild imagination, and nothing else.

The DVD adds a commentary from Burton, a trivia quiz, and a pair of featurettes. A feature called "fish tales" pops up icons during the feature which take you on asides down these various vignettes.

I need your clothes, your boots, and your car.



Big Fish

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th January 2004

Box Office USA: $66.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $122.9M

Budget: $70M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Jinks/Cohen Company, The Zanuck Company, Tim Burton Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 163 Rotten: 50

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Richard D. Zanuck, ,

Starring: as Younger Ed Bloom, as Older Ed Bloom, as Will Bloom, as Older Sandra Bloom, as Younger & Older Jenny/The Witch, as Younger Sandra Bloom, as Josephine, as Older Dr. Bennett, Matthew McGrory as Karl the Giant, as Don Price - Age 18-22, as Mildred, Loudon Wainwright III as Beamen, Arlene Tai as Jing, Ada Tai as Ping, as Norther Winslow, as Amos Calloway, as Mr. Soggybottom, as Ruthie - Age 8

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.