Big Fish

Why do we believe something we hear/read/see? Some of it is known fact so the believing comes a little easier. Sometimes we believe in something to find an answer we were desperately seeking, whether it is right or wrong. Yet, sometimes we believe because the truth is a less desirable circumstance. As children, we believe everything our parents tell us because they are the sole authority on all knowledge in the world. As we grow, we find our own truths and decipher what should still be believed and what can be thrown in with the rest of the Big Fish.


Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) is a journalist whose father, Ed Bloom (Young—Ewan McGregor; Senior—Albert Finney), has a never-ending supply of outlandish stories. Upon hearing of his father’s deteriorating health, Will, along with his pregnant wife (Marion Cotillard), return home to mend a broken relationship and finally get some answers regarding the stories with which he had been raised.

Big Fish chronicles these stories with magnificent visuals and an eclectic cast of oddball characters played by the likes of Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi, Missi Pyle and – what Tim Burton film would be complete without – Helena Bonham Carter. The film dives head first into the belief system of a child with a largely non-existent father. Ed Bloom spent much of Will’s childhood on the road, so his perception of his father was based solely on seemingly impossible stories. As we find out and much of us know from experiences, there is always a little truth to tales.

Since the film tapers between young Ed Bloom’s life and senior Ed’s demise, there is a distinct separation in style. Ewan McGregor plays the happy-go-lucky, young Ed as he acts out the stories Will had heard for years, such as working for a circus or finding conjoined twins during the war and escaping to be with his wife, Sandra (Senior—Jessica Lange). These surreal portrayals are what keep the film interesting. The present scenes may contain the majority of the character progression, but the Ed Bloom timeline presents the chance for the audience to be entertained, and succeeds.

With the aforementioned supporting cast, Ewan McGregor shines with a surprisingly well-managed Alabama accent and a perpetual grin from ear-to-ear. He and Finney do a good job combining the perceived dual personality of Ed Bloom over the course of a number of years. Apart from Finney, McGregor and to a lesser extent Crudup, no one is given a chance to really separate themselves. Carter is given her typical eccentric role(s), but I sincerely hope she continues branching out beyond her husband’s films since that is when she gives her best work. Meanwhile, Cotillard and Lange are more or less irrelevant to the story. Especially Lange, considering Sandra had been married to Ed for so many years, but never bothered to answer her son’s questions regarding the facts behind Ed’s numerous stories.

All in all, Big Fish is a fun adventure. A little slow at times and slightly long, but entertaining nevertheless. If you haven’t seen it, don’t let the Tim Burton name scare you off; his trademarks go largely unnoticed throughout. While somewhat confusing, Big Fish is a film I think everyone can enjoy.

  1. This is in no way my type of film but it was so weird I ended up liking it haha 😀
    Good Review

  2. This is one of the last unique Burton films before his filmmaking became so formulaic. Great review

  3. Solid review. This has always been my favorite Tim Burton movie. I get a lot of flack for saying that but it just seems more light-hearted and kind makes a good point about story telling. When you find yourself recounting events that happened to you to others, embellishment happens but in this case it is in an extraordinary way. Love this movie.

    • Thanks. I think the message of this film combined with how it works visually is what makes it so entertaining. Everyone can relate to it, which is more than you can say for a lot of Burton films.

    • itsacrazyworldblog
    • June 20th, 2012

    Good review! You definitely made me want to see this!

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