‘Big Fish’ based on the novel by Daniel Wallace is the latest from director Tim Burton and it’s his most accessible movie yet. While the plot is populated with the assorted anomalies we’ve come to expect from Burton’s mind, they don’t overpower the story. Burton sets aside his darker side and comes up with a sweet and emotional movie to soak up in this season of blockbuster Christmas churn.
‘Big Fish’ is a rich and deep story of William Bloom a son, portrayed by Billy Crudup who tries to connect with Albert Finney as his estranged father when his Dad’s health takes a turn for the worse. The plot provides the framework for the Senior Ed Bloom to recount the events of his life which are a series of tall tales as told from the young Ed Bloom’s perspective, about a time and a place where ‘Big Fish’ swim free.
Ewan MacGregor is a natural as the young Ed Bloom, once more playing the cheeky chap with the magic glint in his eyes that he’s been cast in since his early appearance in ‘Lipstick on your Collar’. In Ed Bloom’s world the skies the limit and anything can be made possible with enough determination and will power, and this is proven time and again, as we watch Bloom’s story evolve through the ages.
Along the road Bloom develops friendships with a real life giant which leads to them working with Danny Devito who is a ringleader of a traveling circus show. Ed Bloom sees his one true love during one of the best Matrix-esque freeze frame moments ever shown when he spies Alison Lohman in a blue dress across from him during the circus finale.
‘Big Fish’ has so much big name talent appearing throughout it that it’s hard to do them all justice. Suffice it to say the fables and tales unfold with folks like Jessica Lange, Robert Guillaume, and Steve Buscemi supporting the scenes no matter how tall they’re told. Burton even works in a role to cast his current girlfriend Helena Bonham Carter in as the mysterious witch who lives on the edge of the swamps of Spectre a town that never existed or does it?
The tall tales are the source of conflict between the Father and son. What the son and we come to realize is that his Dad is only being who he is. The son can continue his lifelong disappointment with a Father who would never stop telling tall tales, or embrace his Dad as the character he so often described and enjoy his ‘more interesting’ versions of events.
As a person who recently saw my own father survive a heart attack recently, ‘Big Fish’ expresses what too few of us understand in time. Glad that my Father recovered and is home for the holidays, For Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2003 - Purple - Air Date: 12/23/03
USA - 2003