Customer Reviews: Big Fish
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on February 21, 2004
Big Fish is the best movie I have ever seen and I have sent many, many people to see it and none have been disappointed. The easiest way to describe the movie would be "Terms of Endearment" for Sons and Fathers. The son knows that his father is dying, but is unable to let go without at least trying to distinguish between his Father's "Fish" stories and his father's real life. The viewer never knows until the very end of the movie where the truth lies in this senerio. I assume many viewers will find themselves in this "non-chick" flick and so you may need some tissue, I did. Also this is a Tim Burton masterpiece in production, visual effects, plot, music, and character interplay.
The sexiest scene I have ever viewed in a film takes place in Big Fish and yet there is no nudity in the scene. Jessica Lang provides the viewer with her usual superb performance and the young version of her character looks so much like her the viewer forgets they are two different actors and both their performances are outstanding. McGregor, although has lots of scenes in the movie, plays his part of the confused and somewhat angry son flawlessly. The father and his younger version keep the viewer so entertained that you never want this film to end. I would recommend this film to everyone over the age of 12. It is not a good choice for real young children because Tim Burton has done such an outstanding job of producing this film and most of the scenes are bigger than life and would easily scare younger audiances, although this is not a scary movie. It is brilliant and I do not understand why Hollywood has not given this picture more oscar attention and it is rare that I ever want to view a film more than once I intend to buy this DVD and watch it 100 more times.
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on May 10, 2004
I went into Big Fish with high hopes. I love Tim Burton movies. He has an amazing imagination, which is lacking in many directors today. Directors like Roland Emmerich, Renny Harlin, and of course the big one, Michael Bay. These directors only use special effects and big explosions, while the story gets lost. Meanwhile Burton's genius is that his beautiful visuals compliment his stories. So as the curtains rose, and the theater went dark I was overcome by a childish glee. Then to my disdain, the lights came back on, then went on, and off about 15 more times before the movie finally started. But what a movie it ended up being.
Big Fish tells the story of a young man trying to sort out the facts and lies that his father has been telling him for his whole life. As the story opens Will Bloom (Crudup) hasn't spoken to his father in almost three years. He got tired of listening to his tall tales, but when he gets a call from his mother (Lange) telling him that his father doesn't have much time he rushes down as a latch ditch effort to learn the facts about his father. Albert Finney plays Edward Bloom, a man nearly confined to his bed, trying to get his son to accept who he is. The majority of the film is told through flashbacks, showing the amazing life that young Edward Bloom (Mcgregor) has lived. From giants to circus, from war to salesman, the film gives you the glimpse of a life as Bloom sees it. Is it true? Is he lying? Or is he embellishing the facts? Who knows and who cares.
The actors in this movie shine. Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney are absolutely charming in this movie. You want to believe his stories, and you can see why others do. The convincing shed their accents and pick up a southern accent without you really noticing. Other notable performances include Jessica Lange and Helena Bohnam Carter. But another surprise would have had to be Lohman. This was the first movie I had seen her in, and I was amazed. She is extremely talented and even with the limited screen time she was given manage to catch my attention.
Now on to the inevitable visuals. Everyone knows of Tim Burtons visuals. Heck he has made it a trade mark., now known as Burtonism. This movie surprised me in the aspect that although very visual, it was the least of all his movies. What stood out to me? Well the town of Spectre along with the path to get there. It was a beautiful town, which represented Heaven on earth. Another notable section was the circus, where time froze while Ed Bloom saw the women of his life. The screenplay by John August captures the beauty of Daniel Wallace's book while expanding on it. The screenplay looked tailor made to be directed by Tim Burton. Which brings us to the score which was beautifully written by Danny Elfman. I have gotten so used to his dark and moody scores that I forgot how brilliant and light some of his scores can be. This is one of the best, compliments the movie perfectly.
So when the lights came back on after the movie was over I was smiling. My imagination was just blown away again by Tim Burton. I was talking about the movie with a few friends after we got out of the theater and they noticed the same reaction from the audience as with me. I remembered being afraid when I sat down originally because it was the late showing and the audience consisted of teens. I was expecting a lot of dumb comments but they were as blown away as I was. Even now a few months later as I watch it on dvd I still can't stop smiling at how much I like this movie. This is a movie for everyone.
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This is, indeed, a magical, mystical movie about fathers and sons, which is based upon the book "Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions" by Daniel Wallace. The book is a perfect vehicle for Director Tim Burton's signature melange of reality and fantasy. The story is that of a father and his son, their estrangement, and their eventual reconciliation. It is a beautifully realized film that will bring tears to one's eyes.

The father in question is Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) who loves to tell, at least it seems so to his son, Will (Billy Crudup), tall tales about his past. The son becomes estranged from his father on his wedding day, when his father tells one tall tale too many for Will's tastes. For the next several years, Will communicates only with his mother, Sandra (Jessica Lange).

When his father becomes seriously ill, however, Will and his wife rush to his side. Father and son take final stock of each other, and the seemingly tall tales continue. As his father gets progressively worse, Will, feeling that he really does not know his father, embarks on a journey to discover for himself, once and for all, the man his father really is. What he discovers is that his father was not so off the mark with his stories, and he finally begins to appreciate who his father really is and the impact that he has had on others. It allows Will to be able to say goodbye to his father in a way that his father understands and to be at peace with the man whom he discovered his father to be .

The film takes the viewer on a ride through some of Ed Bloom's tall tales, in a series of vignettes, where the viewer sees a young Ed Bloom (Ewan McGregor) living an almost fantastical life. We see him meet the love of his life, Sandra, as a young girl (Alison Lohman). We see him as a circus worker, a soldier, a traveling salesman, and even a bank robber. We see some of the people that cross section his life: a giant, a diminutive ringmaster, a witch, singing Siamese twins, and a bank robber. Ed even comes across a perfectly heavenly town full of wonderful, happy people.

This is simply a marvelous film with fantastical elements reminiscent of "Forrest Gump" and "The Princess Bride". Wonderful performances are given by veteran actors Albert Finney and Jessica Lange. Look for the very touching bath tub scene, where, fully clothed, the love between Ed and Sandra is palpable. Albert Finney, in the role of the senior Ed Bloom, is exceptional as a raconteur of the first order. Ewan McGregor is remarkable as the charismatic, younger Ed Bloom, infusing the role with a joie de vivre that is as infectious as it is engaging.

Jessica Lange is terrific as the senior Sandra Bloom, grounding her relationship with her husband with a steadfastedness born of years of mutual love and respect. Alison Lohman is simply lovely as the younger Sandra, imbuing her character with a beautiful sense of innocence and longing. It is interesting that both Alison Lohman and Ewan McGregor strongly resemble their more senior co-stars.

Billy Crudup is excellent as the angry Will Bloom, the son who needs to reconcile his image of his father with the man his father actually is. Robert Guillaume is masterful in the small role of the senior Dr. Bennett. The rest of the stellar cast is superlative, though Danny DeVito's southern accent needed a bit more work. The direction, however, is deft, and the cinematography is brilliant. This is an absolutely exceptional film. I really enjoyed it immensely, even though I initially viewed this film most reluctantly, and only after much persuasion by my son. I am certainly glad that I did. This film has made me a fan of Tim Burton. It is filmmaking at its best. Bravo!
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on September 25, 2005
One of Tim Burton's absolute best. To answer the previous question, it's the same DVD as the initial release. It comes in big box (that's the cover shown) and this one includes the 24 page hardcover book "Fairy Tale for a Grown Up."
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on April 12, 2004
I found it exceedingly hard to give this film a rating, even those 4 stars i decided for i'm not absolutely certain about, it could easily have been a 3-star decision or a a 5-star even.
The reason for this is that "Big Fish" is a tricky proposition to make up your mind about. The fact that many reviewers either absolutely love it or found it tedious is attesting to that notion.
While "Big Fish" is on the surface a film about a father in his dying days narrating the incredible and zany stories of his life and a son who tries to find out if these stories have any truth in them and simoultaneously learn who his father really was before he dies, there's quite many underlying and very significant questions and issues that this film deals with.
To begin with, we as viewers never really find out with any certainty if these stories are indeed true, but instead we are "trained" through the course of the movie to think with father Gloom's mindset, that is:
"it doesn't really matter if they are true, it only matters that they make a good story".
And then just when you think that's all there is, you realise that this film is like an onion really as another layer reveals itself to you:
"but isn't reality a matter of total subjectivity, and that what one person perceives as real the next person might think of as complete nonsense"?
And yet who's to say what the answers "really" are? Big Fish walks , in my opinion, a very tight rope, and having to maintain a very precarious balance it does incredibly well.
After the disaster of the "Planet of the Apes", Burton comes up in a domain where he does best: one between dream and reality where the borders are not only blurry but there might not be borders alltogether. It's all very "fortean" in concept, but Burton has proven in other films in his past that he can deal with this domain quite succesfully.
Aside of the premise of the film (which again, will be perceived by a lot of viewers differently) this is a cinematic masterpiece as Burton brings to life the old school of grand-moviemaking to life.
Alone the stunning depictions of the stories of father Gloom are cinema at its dreamy bestand this complimented by a cast headed by McGregor who ultimately finds a vehicle for the performance of his life make up for a not easy to forget film.
The rest of the cast is up to par as well. Father Gloom played by Finney is a wonderful zesty character, as well as his wife played by a graciously aging J.Lange. De Vito and Buscemi, even in second leads, remind us easily why they belong to that league of premier actors.
Sure enough, were this film to be taken literally, there are quite some plot holes, to name one example, why would a woman be so terribly in love with someone who was basically never there?
But, this is exactly the trick here. Big Fish should not be judged on that merit. Burton himself has inserted not one, but many hints inside the dialogues of the film in that direction.
Do see it. I'm not claiming it will change your life, but it will provide a lot of food for thought if you find a way to allow it to.
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on December 8, 2003
There is something exhilarating about riding two trains and running 27 blocks down the street to see a movie. Living 8 or so miles outside New York City has its perks for one of my new jobs. Going to press screenings of yet to released blockbusters. It's just to bad I'm at the mercy of the New Jersey Transit rail system. With delayed trains and lots of snow covering the ground of course I had 10 minutes to get from Madison Square Garden to Union Square. No small feat if you ask me.
But as I settled down in my chair at the Regal Union Square, and as I sipped on the sweet nectar of the drink called COKE, a film unfolded. A film so good, it made my mad dash to the theater worth every minute and as I reminisce about the filmed triumph that is BIG FISH, I feel a sense of awe and wonder. Tim Burton has created a film better than EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and a film that is worthy of Oscar.
William Bloom (Billy Crudup, Waking The Dead) is mad at his father Edward Bloom (Albert Finney,Erin Brockovich). You see his dad loves to tell stories about his youth. Except none of them seem true. Stories of Giants named Karl (Matthew McGrory, Bubble Boy), Circus Freaks, wandering poets, Siamese Twins from Red China, bank robberies, a witch, and a really big fish. William longs to meet the real man behind all the stories. But when Edward is stricken with cancer, William comes face to face with the man, both the real one and the legend.
BIG FISH is the kind of movie where a new surprise is hiding around every corner. From babies being spit across the hospital floor to a classic car being submerged underwater. The frame is jammed with visions both colorful and humorous. I especially liked the witch whose one eye could tell you how you would die. What an eerie and yet oddly beautiful old woman she was.
I also loved the tender moment that Edward and his wife Sandy (Jessica Lange, Titus) had in the bathtub. It's a scene full of both raw emotion and sweet reflection. Here's a woman who's watching the man she loves die right in front of her face. Every moment counts, and every word and breath sacred.
Ewan MacGregor (Star Wars: Attack of the Cloans) does a fine job as young Edward the adventurous youth of all his older counterpoint fantastical stories. His performance strikes the right cords at the right moments, allowing the audience to take hold of a man who may be the fabrication or the true version of a man who's telling the story.
Tim Burton's directing is top notch. He's proven that he's a master of the visual image, and BIG FISH is the perfect film to allow people to sit up and take notice. He strikes the right cord between humor and tears, joyous circus's and scary forests. His deft eye even takes us behind enemy lines. In a scene that is both inspired and quirky all at the same time.
BIG FISH is also a film about heritage. What's more important in the scheme of things, how we lived or how people remember us? It's a little of both, and this film puts us right in the middle of it all. Watching a life unfold around us.
BIG FISH is the reason I love going to the movies. Sure sometimes you have to dig through the trash to find a gem and this is a gem of a motion picture. If you see one film at all this year BIG FISH is worth a trip, even a whirlwind 27-block sprint to your local theater.
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on January 22, 2004
Tim Burton's most anticipated movie has finally arrived. Fans from all over have flocked to go see this movie when it was only released in limited theaters. But now, it's open nation wide and everyone can have a chance to see this movie. But is it worth the wait...and the cost of your money?
Albert Finney plays Ed Bloom; a man who has spent most of his whole life telling stories to everyone he meets. Everyone seems to get a big kick out of the stories except for his son, Will Bloom (Billy Crudup). Ed becomes very sick and this illness causes Will to come back to his father. Will then struggles with his father to seperate fact from fiction and find out who his father really is. The movie is told mostly through Ed's stories and Ewan McGregor plays the young Ed Bloom. Jessica Lange stars as Ed's wife, Sandra Bloom, while Alison Lohman plays the young Sandra Bloom throughout the stories.
After seeing this movie, I was just in awe at how incredible this film was. The movie is very emotional and definitely not for everyone. Big Fish starts out kinda confusing and almost a mess. The movie starts right away in the stories and your swept into them with no plot and wonder, "What's going on?" The one reason why the movie still has audiences watching and not leaving, despite the flaws, is because of the visuals. It's a good thing Tim Burton directed because to be honest, I don't think any other director could pour enough imagination and heart into this movie like Tim Burton did. Through the visuals, one can see that Mr. Burton cares deeply for this movie and it's characters. The visuals can go from being creepy (very much Burton style), to being simply beautiful. The movie has excelled in it's breath taking appearance.
The acting is so-so except for two that stand out among the others. Mr Finney is extraordinary as the father who is relentless in telling his stories. This is a difficult character to play because this is a man who likes to be the center of attention but yet he has to be a character that you still care for even though he is selfish in his ways. Mr. Finney hits the character right on, and you find yourself loving Ed Bloom and always wanting him to be on the screen, much like the other characters wanted him in the film because of his stories. The other standout is Mr. Crudup. His performance of the son who can't stand his father or his stories is so human that you feel like you know this guy. Mr. Crudup is very careful in his acting in making sure he doesn't overact during the emotional scenes but yet, stay human and provide us with warm comfort as we can understand and relate to why he would feel sick of his father and his stories.
Big Fish consist mostly of Ed's stories and at the final ending is where everything comes together. Throughout the entire movie there's not much of a plot, but it keeps you there because of the visuals, and then at the end is where everything comes together. The ending is so pleasing and glamourous that it makes the entire movie worthwhile. The ending is what truely turns this film from a good movie into a great movie. It's so charitable and memorable of the importance of a father/son relationship that it had me crying. Everything was tied together and I found myself cheering and clapping at how incredible this film was.
Big Fish is definielty worth the money. This is a film about a father and a son and the relationship between the two. Though the movie begins like a man stumbling through the fog, it ends like a man standing in a field of beautifully grown yellow flowers, simply marvolous. Big Fish has produced an emotionally big result.
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on January 18, 2004
I saw the trailer for this film a few months back, and although I didn't know much about it, I was genuinely impressed. As Big Fish finally came out in theaters, I knew that I'd have to see it. I am so happy that I did.
This beautiful film tells the story of a dying man (Albert Finney) whose son (Billy Crudup) feels as if everything the old man had told him about his life was phoney. As his son tries to piece together all the stories that he was told when he was younger, he begins to figure out that is maybe not all a myth.
When the stories are told, Ewan McGregor plays a younger version of this man, during the 1950s and 1960s. In his fantasy-like adventures, he tells how he encountered a gentle giant, saved the town that he lived in, and met his true love (Alison Lohman) through months of work in a circus to get the ringmaster (Danny DeVito) to tell him more about the girl that he'd seen but did not know. The whole thing ties together in a beautiful way, and this movie you will be sure to love! It is a modern day Wizard of Oz! My Rating-9.2/10!
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on May 15, 2004
"Big Fish" is the latest bit of calculated whimsy from famed director Tim Burton. With a screenplay by John August based on the Daniel Wallace novel, Burton tells the tale of Edward Bloom, a man whose whole life has been one "big fish story" after another. Now old and facing death, Bloom needs to come up with a rousing finale to cap off his largely fictionalized life. Bloom's son, William, a realist and pragmatist, bitterly resents the "lies" his father has been feeding him ever since he was a boy, and yearns, in these last moments together, to hear the "true" story of the old man's life. But, in his investigation into the veracity of all the tall tales he's been told, William discovers that there may be more truth to these myths and legends than he has ever allowed himself to believe. He also realizes that, in debunking all the whoppers, he will be depriving his father of the one real trait that defines him as a person and that distinguishes him from everybody else.
The title of the film actually functions on two symbolic levels simultaneously. On the one hand, it reflects the fictionalized nature of Bloom's life and the grandiose egotism of his character. On the other, Bloom is, himself, the "big fish" in a small pond, as he leaves his mark on the world around him. "Big Fish" is actually most effective in the scenes set in the present, as father and son come to terms with the quality that each dislikes most about the other. William feels deceived by a father who, despite the fact that he made himself appear to be a larger-than-life heroic figure, was actually just a mediocre, often-absent dad, too busy with his secret "fantasy" life to make time for his own lonely son (the story has strong echoes of "Death of a Salesman" in its underlying vision and theme). Bloom, in a similar way, finds his son lacking in the kind of large-scale imagination that Bloom feels makes life worth living.
The film is considerably less successful in the "flashback" scenes tracing Bloom's life from his own birth to his son's early childhood. The scenes are all elaborately staged in the best Tim Burton manner - filled with hauntingly mythical settings, surrealistic events and doses of Magic Realism - but the filmmakers can't overcome the unfortunate fact that these sequences are essentially as uninteresting and irritating as real "fish stories" tend to be. Bloom's "adventures" come across as dime-novel vignettes, which is supposed to be the point, I guess, but it still means that we are squirming with impatience through large - indeed very large - stretches of the film. Every time we come back to the present - to real, flesh-and-blood human beings - our interest picks back up. That's why the film, in its latter stages, becomes such a moving and profound experience, as we finally get to see and know the real man who is Edward Bloom, wrinkles, warts and all.
Burton has assembled a wonderful cast for the occasion. The marvelous Albert Finney plays the dying Bloom and invests the film with an emotional depth just by his mere presence in the role. Ewan MacGregor does a fine job as the young, idealistic Bloom, while Jessica Lange and Alison Lohman enact the parts of Bloom's wife present and past (MacGregor and Lohman look as if they could truly grow up to be Finney and Lange). Billy Crudup brings a subtle depth to the role of William and the scenes between him and Finney truly touch the heart. Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi and Danny De Vito round out the impressive cast.
Maybe it says more about me than it does about the film that I ended up liking the parts that were the LEAST Burton-esque the best. But, then again, this is from someone who thinks that the comparatively earthbound "Ed Wood" is Burton's best film.
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on August 26, 2006
This film is essentially about story-telling. If you keep this in mind as you watch the film, it offers an interesting contrast between the story-telling of an elderly Alabama businessman, Ed Bloom, and the storytelling of the film's director, Tim Burton.

Ed Bloom, played by Ewan McGregor in his youth and by Albert Finney in his old age, is a natural story-teller. He takes the raw material of everyday life and enhances it, embellishes it, and pulls it together in an entertaining whole. Because his life had several odd twists and turns, he has more raw material for his stories than the average fellow. His courtship of his wife Sandra, played by Alison Lohman in her youth and by Jessica Lange in her maturity, comprises the most romantic and the longest tale in the story.

Ed and Sandra have a son, Will, played by Billy Crudup, who has heard one tall tale too many and has become estranged from his father for the last 3 years while Will and his young wife live in Paris. The story moves from the vastly romantic courtship of Ed and Sandra to Will's stuggle with the relationship with his father. Basically Will assumes that if the stories are embellishments of truth that he does not really know his father. As his father is dying of cancer, Will tries to break through and find the real father underlying the tall tales. His father is insulted and hurt by this approach, and through his sick-bed story telling Ed captivates Will's beautiful young French wife.

At the end of the film, the son Will, is left alone with his father as his father is dying and tells his father a tall tale of his father's death, surrounded by all those who have know and loved him, as he becomes a giant black catfish who swims away. At the end we see the son Will finally recognize that the tall tale, the embellished story, contains an essential truth that must be protected and clothed and escorted with the trapings of fantasy so as to be recognized, appreciated, and absorbed.

This is the truth that Burton wishes for us to comprehend about the role of the storyteller and he relays this message in his own tall tale.

As a final note, since I am from Alabama, I personnally enjoyed seeing the scenes that were filmed in old downtown Montgomery and on the Huntingdon College Campus.
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