Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 39.16%
Just Average: 7.83%
Pretty Crappy: 1.81%
Sucks: 1.81%

11 reviews, 100 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Psycho Goreman by Jay Seaver

Coming 2 America by Peter Sobczynski

Raya and the Last Dragon by Peter Sobczynski

Jumbo by Jay Seaver

Blithe Spirit (2021) by Jay Seaver

My Zoe by Jay Seaver

Nomadland by Rob Gonsalves

Stylist, The by Peter Sobczynski

Hidden Man by Jay Seaver

Writer's Odyssey, A by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

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

"Possibly Tim Burton's best yet."
4 stars

I've never considered myself particularly a fan of Director Tim Burton and lately I'm beginning to wonder why. There is no doubt he has both courage and a truly original vision. Many of his films (let's just forget about the whole Batman phase, can we?) such as Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice are virtual icons of recent American film. He consistently lands some of the most admirable actors working today, such as Johnny Depp, Dianne Weist, Glenn Close, Billy Crudup, Alison Lohman, Albert Finney, and the list goes on. Plus, let's face it, his movies are fun.

Burton's latest is Big Fish, the story of a young man about to have his first child, trying almost desperately to understand the dying father he has grown to resent, and in fact hasn't spoken to for 3 years. Burton pretty much pulls out all the stops here, as he blurs the line between fantasy and reality in a way he never has before.

William Bloom (Billy Crudup) is a pragmatic young man whose strained relationship with his father Edward (played by Ewan McGregor as a young man and Albert Finney as an elderly man) has caused them not to speak since William's wedding three years earlier. William's wife is now 7 months pregnant and Edward is critically ill, forcing the two to finally face each other.

William's resentment toward his father stems from Edward's knack for weaving his own life into fantastic stories, always causing him to be the center of attention, even on William's wedding day. At various points in the film, William says of his father, "He's never told me a single true thing" and of his father's life, "It doesn't make any sense, and most of it never happened." William is now intent on finding the "truth" of his father's mysterious life.

Big Fish jumps back and forth between the current day and Edward's life growing up, progressing through young adulthood, at least as he tells it in his stories. As a young boy, he has the courage to face the town witch and learns where, when and how he will die. He starts to grow so fast, he is bed ridden for three years. Eventually, he decides it is not he who is growing too fast, but the town he lives in which is too small. He befriends a giant, discovers a strange town resembling the afterlife and works in a circus. While at the circus, he sees a young woman named Sandra (Alison Lohman, later played by Jessica Lange) and falls in love with her instantly. His quest now becomes to find out who she is so he can marry her. If all this seems like a lot, I'm barely scratching the surface.

I'm also not sure I've ever seen a movie with so much symbolism and so many allusions. There is the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken." Visual references to artist Diane Arbus. Bits of Greek mythology. There absolutely has to be some Homer (the author of The Odyssey, not Simpson) in there. The Garden of Eden. Noah's Ark. The list is almost endless. There is also the all too common, momentary lack of focus heading into the final act. In this case, it involves a feeble attempt at a Coen Brothers style bit of odd humor, ironically involving Coen regular Steve Buscemi. Fortunately, the film quickly gets back on track, giving a few surprising revelations as it heads toward what is the only ending it could possibly have. Depending on the viewer, this ending will either be handled with warmth and compassion or with almost unbearable sentimentality. Personally, I thought it worked quite well.

Big Fish has raised Tim Burton's stock a few notches in my eyes. As I said at the beginning, I'm not sure why I haven't held him in higher regard all along. His unique style is truly refreshing in what can often be a stifled film industry. It is pleasant to see someone who makes films as unusual as his continue to get funding, creative freedom and have decent success at the box office.

What probably surprised me most about Big Fish is how moving it ended up being. As the 2 hours passed, I found myself becoming completely wrapped up in every single character, other than Steve Buscemi's poet Norther Winslow. Not to imply anything against Buscemi, who has proven himself over and over to be a reliable and particularly talented actor. Winslow is a character who may have had more meaning at one point in the development process, but somehow got lost in the end. How Big Fish succeeds is in steering all its characters through a complex series of events, some real and others fantasy, and coming to its conclusion without completely collapsing under the weight of its own absurdity. I'm not sure how many other directors could have accomplished this feat.

I was also surprised by the many thoughts going through my mind as I watched Big Fish. For example, Edward's pre knowledge of his death. What if you knew when and how you would die? What would you do with that knowledge.? How Edward uses it is genuinely interesting. Beyond that, does he actually know how and when he will die? I also thought about the concept of "growing up." Typically, people tend to lose the ability to believe in the fantastic as they grow up. This is understood to be a sign of maturity, or is it actually a fear of losing control of everything around you? Is it possible that belief in the outrageous, as Edward possesses, could actually be more mature?

I can't write about Big Fish without mentioning the fine cast, which is a virtual list of many of my personal favorites. Ewan McGregor is quickly proving his ability in many varied roles. Albert Finney has been a favorite since his charasmatic role as Leo in the Coen Brothers' Miller's Crossing. Billy Crudup has built a particularly respectable reputation by consistently choosing fine roles and delivering subtle performances. I have seen Jessica Lange in a completely different light since her outstanding performance in Julie Taymor's Shakespearean adaptation Titus in 2000. Helena Bonham Carter has built a staggering range of performances from A Room with a View to the radically different Fight Club. I could go one with appearances from people like Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi and even quirky singer/songwriter Louden Wainright III. Finally, I can't overlook Alison Lohman, who completely floored me with her subtle, powerful performance in White Oleander. Lohman is one of a handful of the most exciting film talents to come along in the last 10 years. While her role here is not a particularly difficult one, it is quite critical and she handles it with her usual understated charm. (This review originally appeared on Slacker-Reviews.com)

Not exactly finely tuned, but Burton earns the right to excuse the mistakes he does make.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8377&reviewer=373
originally posted: 08/05/04 20:31:36
[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

5/21/20 Charles Tatum Ultimately charming film 4 stars
1/16/12 obnox brilliant, awesome, remarkable...yesssssss 5 stars
1/15/12 hurdygurdy man Not sure who's this for...maybe w/some good Acid?? 3 stars
3/05/10 cutie_b's this movie made me realize that clowns should ALWAYS carry guns. 5 stars
12/01/09 Troy The best movie I've seen in 10 years. Just awesome 5 stars
7/27/09 iloveEM i loved this movie ewan mcgregor did an amazing job with a great accent 5 stars
8/02/08 Shaun Wallner Such a Happy Story! 5 stars
7/27/08 The Dork Knight I don't get it. 3 stars
5/07/08 chamorro awesome 5 stars
2/17/08 SamanthaP it was really sweet and imaginative and sad at the end (good sad) 5 stars
6/16/07 Bopo A phenomenonally creative feel good movie. Easily one of my favorites. 5 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega A great story with a moral agenda. 3 stars
11/10/06 David Pollastrini very funny 3 stars
7/24/06 R.W.Welch Not flawless, but highly imaginative, funny and touching, too. Close enough. 5 stars
12/30/05 tony BORING 1 stars
8/27/05 Quigley ewan ruled int his, as he always does. its surreal atmosphere is great and enjoyable. 5 stars
8/05/05 Zack GREAT! 5 stars
7/15/05 Charlie Alison Lohman is great in this flick, just like in Matchstick Men. 5 stars
4/30/05 Alyson A magical and enchanting movie. Favorite actor and director. 5 stars
3/12/05 Alice Colwell allright 4 stars
3/01/05 Pinthestripeonthegoat Tales of a catfish hunter 5 stars
12/24/04 Red Sox Still Suck Great movie. Tim Burton rarely disappoints. See it by all means 5 stars
12/14/04 Tom Benton Beautiful, moving, clever and often funny drama, Burton's "Forrest Gump"; McGregor is great 5 stars
11/30/04 lolalaloca13 1 of top 5 fave films 5 stars
11/26/04 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
9/12/04 Edgar Well, it manipulated my feelings, but in a clever well done way... 5 stars
9/07/04 JeffK Very enjoyable 5 stars
8/25/04 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
7/27/04 Mike Devans Nothing spectacular. I expected more out of it 4 stars
7/20/04 AngeFaitore Forrest Gump Acid Trip! 3 stars
7/08/04 Ruth Ann Farver Overblown, Mundane, Cutesy, Junk 1 stars
7/06/04 Taylor Fladgate Unforgetable 5 stars
7/03/04 Ionicera good all around but too sentimental near the end 4 stars
6/14/04 Gerry Ditrich Bloody Brilliant!! best film by Tim Burton so far 5 stars
6/11/04 Larry We live on by the way we are remembered. Seems simple, yet this is done so beautifully! 5 stars
6/07/04 palaboy101 unforgettable and excellent! 5 stars
5/26/04 Russell Watson Wonderful Movie 5 stars
5/24/04 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
5/19/04 Matthew Tim Burton's best effort since "Ed Wood"! 5 stars
5/10/04 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
5/02/04 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
3/23/04 Chloe Brody THis was so sweet - how gorgeous was Edward??? 4 stars
3/19/04 kari dennis great movie 5 stars
3/16/04 Holly Beeman ...The most beautiful story ever told. :~) 5 stars
3/01/04 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
2/21/04 Phyllis Joy Very good movie. Stunning visuals and an interesting storyline. "Almost Awesome." 4 stars
2/17/04 Joe So good 5 stars
2/16/04 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
2/08/04 Whatevr The only sucking this movie does is sucking you in. 5 stars
2/07/04 Smitty Great performance by Finney. A visually stunning film reminiscent of Fellini in his prime. 4 stars
2/07/04 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
2/02/04 Matt One of Tim Burton's best! 5 stars
2/02/04 Monday Morning Disappointingly manipulative. 2 stars
2/02/04 Heath Entertaining and imaginitive! 5 stars
1/31/04 STUFU McGrego and Finney are great, but Crudup gives a boring performance. Great overall. 5 stars
1/30/04 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
1/19/04 disaffected daughter too forgiving of remorseless bad parenting 4 stars
1/18/04 yeahboy Forrest Gump meets Baron Munchausen!! 4 stars
1/18/04 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
1/17/04 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
1/16/04 Agent Sands Too unbelievably entertaining for words! Fantastic! 5 stars
1/14/04 Todd Bertuzzi What a beautiful movie....expected great...got great. Wow...very, VERY good. 5 stars
1/14/04 Betty White Pleasant, charming Burton flick; Lange & Finney are wonderful. 4 stars
1/13/04 Jon Lyrik One of the best films of 2003, and Burton's best since Ed Wood. 5 stars
1/13/04 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
1/12/04 Gray the most beautiful death scene ever filmed 5 stars
1/12/04 KingNeutron Burton's best film, IMHO. Helena Bonham Carter's char stole the show for me. 5 stars
1/11/04 HorrorScribbler That Tim Burton, he make-a me cry! 5 stars
1/10/04 T. Hall Has there been better casting this year? 5 stars
1/09/04 jcjs wow, under the infulence, captivating, transforming, telling, delightful, clever etc. 5 stars
1/06/04 JT Finale made my GF cry! 5 stars
1/02/04 chris 1 movie has ever made me cry. this is the second. one of my top 5 favorites 5 stars
12/28/03 Eric S. Good movie, nice ending, unique 4 stars
12/16/03 - Fantastic superb. 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  10-Dec-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2005



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast