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Overall Rating
4.33

Awesome49.7%
Worth A Look: 38.79%
Average: 7.88%
Pretty Bad: 1.82%
Total Crap: 1.82%

11 reviews, 99 user ratings


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Big Fish
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Father-son day at the multiplex."
5 stars

Ed Bloom is a man with many stories, but his favorite is the one where he finally caught the legendary uncatachable catfish in a lake near his Alabama home, using his wedding ring as a lure.

The likelihood of that story being true is slim, particularly when you consider the detail that the fish is supposedly a reincarnated pirate. But Ed loves telling it, and folks love hearing it, except his son, Will, who has grown up believing his father to be nothing more than a facade, a tapestry of tall tales, exaggerations and anecdotes. He doesn't know who his father really is, and it angers him.

That's the conflict at the center of "Big Fish." It's a serious conflict, but the movie is light-hearted and whimsical anyway as it shows a grown Will (Billy Crudup) trying to reconcile with his dying father (Albert Finney) as he recalls many of Ed's stories. Much of the film is a depiction of these tales, with the younger Ed, a traveling salesman, played by Ewan McGregor.

Based on Daniel Wallace's novel and filtered through the strange and brilliant mind of director Tim Burton, "Big Fish" is unfailingly charming and flat-out INTERESTING: You keep watching not just because of the many likable characters, but because you're dying to know what will happen next, both in the flashbacks and in the present-day drama of the father/son reconciliation. The whole film is the cinematic equivalent of comfort food: tasty, familiar and satisfying (and maybe just slightly nutritious).

Ed's stories have a folk-tale flavor to them, each one ending with a down-home aphorism. He encounters a giant named Karl (Matthew McGrory) who has superhuman strength and seems to get taller each time he re-enters the narrative. He meets a witch (Helena Bonham Carter) in whose glass eye he can see his destiny. He joins a circus run by an impresario (Danny De Vito) with a paranormal secret, and comes across a hidden town so pastoral and picturesque it can't possibly be real. Somewhere in all this, Ed meets and marries his wife (played by Alison Lohman as a girl, Jessica Lange as an older woman) in a sweet, chivalric series of anecdotes.

Ewan McGregor's natural charisma and pleasant demeanor make Ed a worthy protagonist in his tales, but Albert Finney is the one to watch here. As the older Ed Bloom, Finney owns every scene he's in, even though he's in bed for most of them. Ed is the sort of congenially cantankerous old Southern gentleman with a quick smile and a million jokes to tell. It's impossible not to like him, and it's impossible not to watch when Finney is on the screen.

How could Will be upset with a man this amiable and friendly? That's what everyone around him wonders. But none of them are Ed's son, nor are they Will's father, and the father/son relationship is often fraught with misunderstanding and emotional distance. Will and Ed don't "get" each other, and that's a problem only they can solve. As an audience, we feel like intimate observers, privy to everything either side feels.

The story succumbs to an overdose of weirdness in the end, but not in an off-putting way. I find the sentiment of it all, and the underlying message of love and family, to be wonderfully uplifting. It's a fun, good-natured movie. Between this and "Finding Nemo," it's been a good year for fish-related movies that make sons want to go home and hug their fathers.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8377&reviewer=247
originally posted: 01/12/04 09:56:13
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/17/12 obnox brilliant, awesome, remarkable...yesssssss 5 stars
1/16/12 hurdygurdy man Not sure who's this for...maybe w/some good Acid?? 3 stars
3/06/10 cutie_b's this movie made me realize that clowns should ALWAYS carry guns. 5 stars
12/02/09 Troy The best movie I've seen in 10 years. Just awesome 5 stars
7/28/09 iloveEM i loved this movie ewan mcgregor did an amazing job with a great accent 5 stars
8/03/08 Shaun Wallner Such a Happy Story! 5 stars
7/28/08 The Dork Knight I don't get it. 3 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT PROOF THAT A GOOD CAST CAN DO LITTLE TO HELP A POORLY WRITTEN, UNORGANISED SCRIPT 1 stars
5/08/08 chamorro awesome 5 stars
2/17/08 SamanthaP it was really sweet and imaginative and sad at the end (good sad) 5 stars
6/17/07 Bopo A phenomenonally creative feel good movie. Easily one of my favorites. 5 stars
2/17/07 Vip Ebriega A great story with a moral agenda. 3 stars
11/11/06 David Pollastrini very funny 3 stars
7/25/06 R.W.Welch Not flawless, but highly imaginative, funny and touching, too. Close enough. 5 stars
12/31/05 tony BORING 1 stars
8/28/05 Quigley ewan ruled int his, as he always does. its surreal atmosphere is great and enjoyable. 5 stars
8/06/05 Zack GREAT! 5 stars
7/16/05 Charlie Alison Lohman is great in this flick, just like in Matchstick Men. 5 stars
5/01/05 Alyson A magical and enchanting movie. Favorite actor and director. 5 stars
3/12/05 Alice Colwell allright 4 stars
3/02/05 Pinthestripeonthegoat Tales of a catfish hunter 5 stars
12/25/04 Red Sox Still Suck Great movie. Tim Burton rarely disappoints. See it by all means 5 stars
12/15/04 Tom Benton Beautiful, moving, clever and often funny drama, Burton's "Forrest Gump"; McGregor is great 5 stars
12/01/04 lolalaloca13 1 of top 5 fave films 5 stars
11/27/04 Matt Carson looking forward to seeing it again 5 stars
11/22/04 luis i like it but the 2 chinnesse girls they werent join? 5 stars
9/23/04 denny the parts were better than the whole 4 stars
9/13/04 Edgar Well, it manipulated my feelings, but in a clever well done way... 5 stars
9/08/04 JeffK Very enjoyable 5 stars
8/26/04 Anthony G good times 4 stars
8/20/04 DM Tied with Ed Wood as Tim Burton's best movie 5 stars
7/28/04 tristan tim burtons best since edward scissorhands 5 stars
7/28/04 Mike Devans Nothing spectacular. I expected more out of it 4 stars
7/21/04 AngeFaitore Forrest Gump Acid Trip! 3 stars
7/09/04 Ruth Ann Farver Overblown, Mundane, Cutesy, Junk 1 stars
7/07/04 Taylor Fladgate Unforgetable 5 stars
7/04/04 Ionicera good all around but too sentimental near the end 4 stars
6/15/04 Gerry Ditrich Bloody Brilliant!! best film by Tim Burton so far 5 stars
6/12/04 Larry We live on by the way we are remembered. Seems simple, yet this is done so beautifully! 5 stars
6/08/04 palaboy101 unforgettable and excellent! 5 stars
5/26/04 Russell Watson Wonderful Movie 5 stars
5/25/04 DMF Incredibly affecting. If you have (or had) a parent, see it. 5 stars
5/21/04 Gretchen Ross this was a beautiful film in terms of story and acting; very creative as well 5 stars
5/20/04 Matthew Tim Burton's best effort since "Ed Wood"! 5 stars
5/11/04 Efrain Vivas a masterpiece 5 stars
5/06/04 Mermaid's Pedicurist Overblown tribute to the fetish that flaky and offbeat is automatically good. 2 stars
5/06/04 Maryclaire Becan LOVE THIS MOVIE 5 stars
5/03/04 blue absolutely magical 5 stars
4/16/04 A Reader Strikes right notes of fantasy, whimsy, sentimentality; the town of Spectre will haunt you. 5 stars
3/26/04 S-P Sweet Movie..similair to FG, but not as interesting. 3 stars
3/24/04 Chloe Brody THis was so sweet - how gorgeous was Edward??? 4 stars
3/20/04 kari dennis great movie 5 stars
3/17/04 Holly Beeman ...The most beautiful story ever told. :~) 5 stars
3/02/04 Wendranh strange plot...different 3 stars
2/28/04 alien assasin "Forrest Gump" with a quirky twist 4 stars
2/26/04 Troy Butler Not Burton's best, but highly entertaining nonetheless!!! 4 stars
2/25/04 susan lee liked use of VO... diff burton style ..ewan rocks! 4 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge Whimsical, magical and loaded with innuendo, this is Burton at his best. Rich and tasty. 5 stars
2/23/04 FrayLo I wasn't sure about this movie at the beginning, but the ending sealed it for me. 4 stars
2/22/04 Phyllis Joy Very good movie. Stunning visuals and an interesting storyline. "Almost Awesome." 4 stars
2/18/04 Joe So good 5 stars
2/17/04 ian THIS FILM WAS SENT BY GOD- AMAZING JUST AMAZING DESERVES MORE THAN 5 STARS 5 stars
2/17/04 Chris I thought this was a nice good movie but the ending made it terrfic. I loved it alot. 5 stars
2/09/04 Caiphn Great film. 5 stars
2/09/04 Whatevr The only sucking this movie does is sucking you in. 5 stars
2/08/04 Smitty Great performance by Finney. A visually stunning film reminiscent of Fellini in his prime. 4 stars
2/08/04 ThriceRise beautiful movie. 5 stars
2/07/04 john bale A modern fairytale that proves to be poetic Cinema of the Wizard of Oz quality 5 stars
2/06/04 Brendan What a story and what a telling. I'll see it again. 5 stars
2/03/04 Matt One of Tim Burton's best! 5 stars
2/03/04 Monday Morning Disappointingly manipulative. 2 stars
2/03/04 Heath Entertaining and imaginitive! 5 stars
2/01/04 STUFU McGrego and Finney are great, but Crudup gives a boring performance. Great overall. 5 stars
1/31/04 Chopper3 Very nicely crafted indeed 5 stars
1/26/04 Helen Bradley McGregor great; confusing plot too long 2 stars
1/25/04 Lord Chu Very, very nice 5 stars
1/24/04 chris. excellent film...better than the other crap they want us to see 5 stars
1/20/04 disaffected daughter too forgiving of remorseless bad parenting 4 stars
1/19/04 yeahboy Forrest Gump meets Baron Munchausen!! 4 stars
1/19/04 Nicole Very entertaining 5 stars
1/18/04 Bemused Often Brilliant; although I would love to see Burton transcend his own style for a change 5 stars
1/18/04 steve andrews 2003's Best! 5 stars
1/17/04 Ayatolla of Rockinrolla The best movie of 2003. Similar yet better than Forrest Gump 5 stars
1/17/04 jcjs fantastic 5 stars
1/17/04 Agent Sands Too unbelievably entertaining for words! Fantastic! 5 stars
1/15/04 Todd Bertuzzi What a beautiful movie....expected great...got great. Wow...very, VERY good. 5 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Pleasant, charming Burton flick; Lange & Finney are wonderful. 4 stars
1/14/04 Jon Lyrik One of the best films of 2003, and Burton's best since Ed Wood. 5 stars
1/14/04 AH I've only cried that hard one other time at a theatre, but I was so happy at the same time 5 stars
1/13/04 syrius speechless 5 stars
1/13/04 Gray the most beautiful death scene ever filmed 5 stars
1/13/04 KingNeutron Burton's best film, IMHO. Helena Bonham Carter's char stole the show for me. 5 stars
1/12/04 HorrorScribbler That Tim Burton, he make-a me cry! 5 stars
1/11/04 T. Hall Has there been better casting this year? 5 stars
1/10/04 jcjs wow, under the infulence, captivating, transforming, telling, delightful, clever etc. 5 stars
1/06/04 JT Finale made my GF cry! 5 stars
1/03/04 chris 1 movie has ever made me cry. this is the second. one of my top 5 favorites 5 stars
12/29/03 Eric S. Good movie, nice ending, unique 4 stars
12/17/03 - Fantastic superb. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Dec-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  05-Feb-2004




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