Release: January 9, 2004 (wide)
by Kevin Lang
Did you ever know somebody who told such fantastic stories that they always seemed to leave you wondering just how much of the story had originated in their own imagination? This was the basis for "Big Fish," a film about a man, Will Bloom (Billy Crudup), who wanted to learn the real events of his dying father's life, instead of just trying to make sense of the outrageous stories that he told.
A certain amount of excitement always seems to revolve around director Tim Burton and his films. As with "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), "Ed Wood" (1994), and "Beetlejuice" (1988), Burton's films are often enjoyably eccentric as they offer a colorful departure from most movies. Yet, with his most recent effort, "Big Fish," this colorful departure existed, but it seemed less inspired. The eccentric tales that Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) told about his life clashed with the underlying story that had never been visible enough to enjoy. Instead of focusing more on the father son relationship going on in the present, Burton eluded us with exaggerated tales of giant men, witches, and a very big fish, all of which carried a deeper but often elusive relationship to the story. As a result, I grew bored with Edward Bloom's tales. Although imaginative, they often seemed detached from the rest of the story, and like his son Will did, I also suspected that Edward was full of...well, you know. However, in the end, unlike his son, I had not been very interested in Edward's stories, and I didn't care much whether they were true or not. The heart of Burton's story should have been developing more in the present, perhaps only choosing a single, more significant tale from the past to focus on.
Tim Burton buffs may enjoy "Big Fish" more than others, as the story seemed to be more a reflection of the mind of an eccentric storyteller, one who lives so long in his own stories that his outlook is often a mixture of reality and fiction. In this sense Burton could be trying to justify his own disillusionment from reality, and as a result, Burton may have injected a large part of himself into his character of Edward Bloom. He did in fact start the project after the death of his own father.
Regardless if Tim Burton intended certain characters to be reflections of himself, "Big Fish" was a film that never took hold of its audience. Instead, the audience just became an additional piece in Burton's elusive puzzle, one that failed to enjoyably reveal its bigger picture.
"Big Fish" Review written January 7, 2004, CTF.
DVD Page »
With in-depth release
TV on DVD, and more.
MovieOrigins.com, CTF Media