guppy's film reviews

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Big Fish

Year: 2003
Director: Tim Burton
Notable Actors: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito
Score: A
Summary: Fun and touching film, part adventure and part shaggy dog story. Something for everyone; highly recommended.


Big Fish is one of those rare films that succesfully crosses several genre boundaries. There are essentially two stories going on at once. The first is the frame story; this is composed mostly of interactions between Ed Bloom, Sr. (Albert Finney) and his son, Ed Bloom, Jr. (Billy Crudup). Crudup is fed up with what he sees as his father's tendency to exaggerate his stories. They have a fight and don't speak again until Finney becomes very sick. The bulk of the story, however, is told through a sequence of flashbacks representing the stories the older Bloom tells his family while ill.

These stories are, allegedly, the life and times of Edward Bloom, Sr., who claims they are true; his son is skeptical. They are generally larger-than-life; they range from a story about a witch in the swamp to serving in Vietnam. It's this flashback mechanism that is able to give Big Fish its incredible range -- because these flashbacks are spanning years and years, it's easy to have a variety of stories to tell.

Although Ed Bloom, Sr. is played by Albert Finney, you won't see him in the flashbacks; Ewan McGregor represents the younger Ed Bloom. The film sports a large cast of characters from all periods; most are not major players, but viewers will almost certainly develop favorites. There are bit roles for a few famous actors, including Danny DeVito and Steve Buscemi.

It's hard to know what to say other than, "I like this movie a lot and you should go see it." The stories are interesting, and are short and fast-paced enough that the next one begins before the viewer has time to become bored with any particular setting. Each story has its own miniature cast of characters, most of whom are fascinating. The frame story is touching, though with the exception of the final scene it's not as engrossing as the flashbacks. The film absolutely exudes personality.

I don't really have much in the way of negatives to bring up about Big Fish. I guess it's not going to go down in Oscar history, but that's largely because it doesn't fit the rather formulaic Oscar mold -- as progressive as the Academy likes to think it is, it really tends to reward the same sorts of films over and over again, and its tastes tend to be rather stiff, eschewing the more "fun" sorts of films.

I like this movie a lot and you should go see it. I bought the DVD after seeing it, and put it in my DVD player to test the disc; I ended up watching the whole thing. See this movie if you like fun.


  • vewry fair and enthusiastic - great way to sell the film!
    NB/ nice avoidance of spoilers.

    By Anonymous BranTheBuilder, at 10:17 AM  

  • loved this movie and you did it justice
    well done
    loving your work
    ~ bard (great faerie)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:30 PM  

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