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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
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by Brian McKay

"I usually don't care for Tim Burton films - but I cared about this one"
4 stars

At one point during the film, I begin to wonder what Ed Bloom's real motivation for grandiose storytelling was. Was it just a certain joi de vivre on his part, a tendency to enhance and embellish simply because he's a natural storyteller? or does it stem from feelings of inadequacy, a way to compensate for all the things he felt he should have done, but never did?

In much the same way, his son Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) faces the dilemma of deciphering his dying father's facts from myths. As the older Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) tells story after story, each more elaborate than the last, the stories are brought to life in surreal flashbacks of the younger Ed Bloom (Ewan McGregor).

Born in a small Alabama town, Edward Bloom posesses the unshakeable certainty that he was born for bigger things. After befriending a gentle but hungry giant named Karl (Matthew McGrory) who has been preying on the town livestock, he convinces Karl to hit the road with him and seek their fame and fortune in the big city. However, big city life is not in the cards, as Ed's adventures (much like his stories) take him on one surreal tangent after another. On his many adventures, he befriends other strange but colorful characters, such as a renown local poet (Steve Buscemi) who seems incapable of composing poems longer than three lines, a lycanthropic Circus ringleader (Danny Devito), and a pair of really hot Chinese singing and dancing siamese twins (Ada and Arlene Tai) - and that's a "two for the price of one" package that's a steal in any language! (Amusingly enough, he learns to speak to them fluently in Chinese by consulting an "English to Asian" dictionary).

Amid all of these adventures, Ed spots the girl of his dreams in a crowd, and is instantly convinced that she is the one he is destined to marry. He doggedly pursues Sandra (alternately played by Alison Lohman and Jessica Lange) with a fervor that would result in a restraining order in the present day, but is of course recieved by Sandra in the proper spirit of hopeless romanticism.

Meanwhile, back in the present, Will grows increasingly frustrated with his terminally ill father's inability (or unwillingness) to tell "the Truth". But when he begins digging through stacks of old papers in his father's disused study, he begins to piece together the jigsaw of Ed's life, finding that even the biggest lies can often contain a kernel of fact.

Big Fish is probably the most enjoyable effort from Tim Burton to date (possibly with the exception of Nightmare Before Christmas). And although at times the film's pacing is bogged down by a number of tangental scenes, the characters and the emotions they convey are very real at their core. This marks a more mature, subdued Burton who seems more focused and less incined to overdo things in his typically surrealistic style, generally keeping the focus on the characters more than on the gimmicky but visually pleasing retelling of Edward Bloom's tall tales.

In the end, BIG FISH is about a man's quest for immortality - not through religion or progeny, but through the sheer power of his words. It drives home the fact that we humans sometimes need a varnished reality with a more pleasing veneer, rather than the humdrum plainess of "truth" with all of its splinters.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8377&reviewer=258
originally posted: 02/24/04 05:38:59
[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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