Friday, January 22, 2010

Big Fish (2003)

Movie quotes:
"She likes music."
- Amos (Danny DeVito), with his obscure yet cherished once-a-month fact supplied to Young Edward Bloom (about the girl he loves)

"It was that night I discovered that most things you consider evil or wicked are simply lonely and lacking in social niceties."
- Young Edward Bloom

"I was 18. He was 28. Turns out that was a big difference."
- Jenny (Helena Bonham Carter)

Senior Ed Bloom (Albert Finney): You are in for a surprise.
Will Bloom (Billy Crudup): Am I?
Senior Ed Bloom: Havin' a kid changes everything. There's burping, the midnight feeding, and the changing.
Will Bloom: You do any of that?
Senior Ed Bloom: No. But I hear it's terrible.

At a glance:
Big Fish is Tim Burton's sweet fantasy about a storyteller who charms everyone he meets – except for his own son

Our review (with spoilers):
Edward Bloom (played by Ewan McGregor as a young man, and Albert Finney as an older man) is a born storyteller. He can’t tell it like it is; each story has gobs of wild fantasy weaved in. There’s always an element of truth, but it’s difficult to ascertain. That’s why the people around him love him – except for his son Will (Billy Crudup), who feels like he has never really known who his father is. The situation was exacerbated by Edward’s job as a traveling salesman. Will rejects Edward’s wild tales as useless nonsense, until, late in his father’s life, a medical tragedy forces him to explore further. What he discovers is that his dad was actually a special man who touched many lives in his travels.

The bulk of the movie follows young Edward as he relives his stories. We meet spiders and giants, werewolves and circus freaks, mythical perfect towns, and a monstrous metaphorical fish. It’s all told through director Tim Burton’s unique skewed perspective.

It’s a strange, unique, and beautiful film, accessible to all (including children), yet it addresses difficult, emotional, ‘adult’ subjects like true love and death. Analytical people may be confused or frustrated by not knowing where ‘truth’ stop and fantasy begins, but if you can go along for the ride, Big Fish delivers a whopper of emotion and a powerful redemption story.

Rating: 3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Plays to Burton's strengths as an auteur of fantasy colliding with reality."
- Christopher Smith (Bangor Daily News [Maine])

"Burton has crafted a sweet yet bizarre film seeming at times like 'The Twilight Zone' in Oz."
- Steve Crum (Kansas City Kansan)

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