Big Fish

A Film Review By The Mike

Rating:PG-13 for some language and brief nudity, but don’t let the rating deter you from taking your children to this amazing film!!!!!!!! 
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup 
Directed By: Tim Burton 

Final Grade: 

If your father didn’t lie to you when you were young, he’s not a good father. I was lucky enough to have my head filled with over-dramatic stories daily by my own father, and hence ended up with an imagination and an easy advantage in entertaining. Big Fish is a tribute to fathers like mine, and the tales they tell, whether they be small or large in scale. It’s also easily the best film of 2003.

Big Fish details the life of Edward Bloom, or at least the life he says he has lived and that his son must sort out before he loses his chance. He claims to have seen everything there is to see, including giants, witches, conjoined twins, werewolves, and even Steve Buscemi. What’s true and what’s not is what his son (Billy Crudup) needs to find out.

The elder Bloom is played in reality by Albert Finney, and in flashback by Ewan McGregor. Both actors give us an extreme amount of passion and flair, bringing life to one of the most lovable characters ever put on film. With each story that we encounter we become more deeply involved in the life of this man. We don’t care if it’s true or not, seeing this man for what he is – a master storyteller with a heart of gold.

Both of these actors give what must be the performances of their careers, but they’re not alone. Jessica Lange and Alison Lohman make the best of their turns as Mrs. Bloom, and Crudup is surprisingly great as the son, especially in the final scenes. Helena Bonham Carter is effective in a duel role, and Buscemi and Danny DeVito are great for comic support. Also wonderfully odd are Matthew McGrory as Karl the Giant, and Billy Redden of Deliverance fame (you’ll know him when you see him) in a cameo appearance.

None of this would work without the ingenuity of Tim Burton, a director who’s always been known for his macabre visions. But like his best work, Big Fish is more than weird. It’s a beautifully pieced together collection of uniquely entertaining scenes and characters, with an innumerable amount of underlying themes that carry throughout.

Big Fish is a film about life and death, family and friendship, politics and history, and most importantly, love. It’s a rare film that’s so passionate about its story that it affects all who watch it, a strange mix of themes from masterful films like Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride, and The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s almost shocking how much the story covers.

Extra credit is due to all involved, from Burton to the actors to the guys working on the sets or effects. Together they’ve created a flawless film that’s easily accessible by anyone and everyone, the type that doesn’t come along very often. When leaving the theater after seeing Big Fish, a revelation came to me quickly. This is not only my favorite film of this year, it’s among my favorite films I’ve ever seen.

But the strangest thought that struck me at that time was of more relevance. This film tells the type of story my father would love. Most of the time, I wouldn’t be so thrilled by thinking that. But in this case, I’ll proudly make an exception.

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