Big Fish

73 ratings (68 Epinions reviews)
Share This!
  Ask friends for feedback

A Somewhat Tasty Catch

Jan 12, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Very entertaining.

Cons:More style than substance.

The Bottom Line: -


Tim Burton's Big Fish has the feel of an epic adventure in a way, yet also comes off like a whimsical fantasy and a serious human drama. Whatever faults one may find with the film, lack of ambition isn't among them. Yet that ambition is also the movie's main flaw. I enjoyed the movie while it was on, yet thinking about it now, a day after seeing it, I find myself feeling that there wasn't much to it, that it overreached with its ambition and the result is a movie that is very easy to admire, yet very hard to love.

I think the main problem with the film is that the narrative flow of the story is off. The film switches between three different narrators and thus it doesn't flow quite well at all. In fact, the film gets rather incoherent at times. My complaint here is similar to the one I had with Cold Mountain: that the idea as a whole would have worked better in book form.

That structural problem might not have been too big a deal in the case of a Tarantino movie. But here it derails the film. The main focus of the story is supposed to be on a dying father telling stories (rather far-fetched ones at that) to his disbelieving journalist son. The father dying bit is a heavy theme for a movie, yet we don't find ourselves caring too much about him or his relationship with his son. In fact, it's safe to say that by the end of the film, we didn't really know any of the characters that well. Overall, the final result is a triumph of style over substance, of whimsical fantasy scenes over a character driven story, to paraphrase Harlan Ellison.

Albert Finney plays the old and dying Edward Bloom, a man who has lived a literally full life. A life full of (literally) tall tales. Tall tales that the audience is never sure whether to believe or not. Tales that his son Will (Billy Crudup) does not believe at all.

When Will hears that his father is dying, he hurries home. There he asks that Edward please tell him the truth. But Edward persists in his tale telling ways, which sets up the stage for a series of vignettes featuring a young Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor) at different points in his life. These tales are supposed to be the stepping-stone for Will to finally accept the eccentric side of dear old dad. Crudup's performance is probably the best thing about the film and Finney is quite decent. But Jessica Lange and Alison Lohman's performances are rather fluffy in a way. Danny Devito's part has some substance to it, although it's the type of role he's been dong for years and he doesn't bring anything new to it.

Given Burton's flair for the absurd and whimsical, you may find it surprising that Big Fish is missing much of the dark, surreal humor that characterized his best movies (Beetlejuice, the original Batman, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow). In fact, a good part of the movie comes off as rather serious minded and the laughs that do occur are often different from what you would expect in a Burton film. Some of them are more standard issue (a bank robbery gig for instance). In a sense, Burton seems to be railing against the low critical reception his overblown remake of Planet Of The Apes received by saying "I'm a serious filmmaker". Unfortunately, he made a mistake. He confused being a serious filmmaker with making a serious movie that has no substance.

All complaints aside, Big Fish is easily very entertaining and you never find yourself bored when watching it. Plus, the closing credits have the excellent new Pearl Jam song "Man Of The Hour". That alone is enough to earn the film a (marginal) recommendation.

Not bad overall, even though it's no Ed Wood.


Recommend this product? Yes


Share this product review with your friends   
Share This!


Related Deals You Might Like...

Big Catch 6 Piece Fishing Game

Big Catch 6 Piece Fishing Game

The Geffen Store NEW Big Catch 6 Piece Fishing Game - New open box items - free standard shipping - Items may come repackaged - We will fully refund i...
eBay

$34.60

FREE Shipping
Big Game Fishing Journal

Big Game Fishing Journal

Written for the deep-sea fishing enthusiast, Big Game Fishing Journal is the most instructional saltwater fishing magazine ever published. The Journa...
Magazineline

$9.99

FREE Shipping
Big Game Saltwater Aluminum Fish Bat Baton Knock Out Fishing Boat Tools Tackle

Big Game Saltwater Aluminum Fish Bat Baton Knock Out Fishing Boat Tools Tackle

Big Game Saltwater Aluminum Fish Bat Baton Knock Out Fishing Boat Tools Tackle (PJQYBBY1138 ) CLICK TO BUY IT NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO WAIT Fishing Lu...
eBay

$13.99

FREE Shipping
Bennett DVD - Big Game Fishing DVD Set - CWR

Bennett DVD - Big Game Fishing DVD Set - CWR

BIG GAME FISHING DVD SET SBIGGAMEDVD Includes: Billfish: Blue, Black & White Marlin & Successful Big Game Fishing. An action filled series loaded with...
Sears Marketplace
Surf to Summit - Big Game Fish Clip Stringer, Fishing

Surf to Summit - Big Game Fish Clip Stringer, Fishing

Keep your catch secure and in one place with the Big Game Fish Clip Stringer, a 15 in. stainless steel fish stringer for the serious kayak angler. The...
Austin Kayak

$13.95

+$4.95 shipping
Berkley Big Fish Lip Grip Digital Scale

Berkley Big Fish Lip Grip Digital Scale

Berkley Big Fish Lip Grip Digital Scale The Berkley Big Fish Lip Grip with Digital Scale helps anglers to land, handle and weigh big fish, especially ...
FishUSA.com

$49.95

FREE Shipping
Muzzy Big Fish Point Adapter   14032808262613

Muzzy Big Fish Point Adapter 14032808262613

Quickly converts standard fish-point to Big Fish PointAdds 2 more barbs for maximum holding powerBarbs reverse for easy withdrawal from fish Compatibl...
Bass Pro Shops

$6.99

+$4.95 shipping
big Man 17.8 Stainless Steel Fish Stringer For Attaching Speared Game Fish

big Man 17.8 Stainless Steel Fish Stringer For Attaching Speared Game Fish

Big Man 17.8 Stainless Steel Fish Stringer for Attaching Speared Game Fish This is a fantastic price on a Big Man 17.8 Stainless Steel Fish Stringer f...
eBay

$23.98

+$19.95 shipping
Personalized Fishing Lures - Big Catch

Personalized Fishing Lures - Big Catch

Any fisherman in your life will be thrilled to receive our Big Catch Personalized Fishing Lure.This spoon lure comes in your choice of 3 realistic fis...
Personalization Mall

$12.95

+$5.45 shipping
Big Heavy Fishing Line 2 Inch Barrel Swivel Lot Terminal Tackle Game Sport Craft

Big Heavy Fishing Line 2 Inch Barrel Swivel Lot Terminal Tackle Game Sport Craft

BIG HEAVY FISH LINE SWIVELS LOT OF 6. SIZE: 2 INCH QUANITY 1 = 6 SWIVELS.FAST FREE SHIPPING THANKS FOR LOOKING. CHECK OUT MY OTHER LISTINGS, IF YOU HA...
eBay

$17.75

FREE Shipping