Big Fish is a visually appeasing film that will capture its audiences with its witty and fun-loving characters, fairytaleesque plotline, and relatable conflict that will have everyone reaching for the phone and dialling their father’s numbers. The film is brought to life by director Tim Burton, who is known for Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Beetlejuice. Burton is known for his big ideas with dark and almost frightening visuals, but Burton shows just how versatile he is with this 2003 book-to-film adaptation of Big Fish.
As stated before, Tim Burton’s visual and, ultimately, story-telling style is haunting but enchantingly beautiful, with dark colors and darker plots. But Burton isn’t only good at making things go bump in the night. In Big Fish, we see a lighter, more childish side to the famous director. Now that I have eloquently explained my love for Tim Burton without sounding like I have an opinion of the man, I should actually review the film itself, not just the man behind the magic. Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) only knows his father by stories.
Tall tales without any sense of reality and/or plausibly believable events that could actually add up to account for his father’s life. He and his father, Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) have been estranged since Will’s wedding night, when his father gives a speech (One could say… A monologue) about his incredible and extraordinarily irritating fishing triumph. Will’s mad because it didn’t happen and Edward’s mad because he said it did and long story short, the two end up on bad terms, which is really a bummer and is the reason for the conflict in our story.
Moving on. Skip ahead a couple years and Will and his wife (Josephine; Marion Cotillard) are living happily in Paris, dreaded wedding night and bad relationship with his dad put behind him. That is, until his mother, Sandra Bloom (Jessica Lange) calls to tell him that his father’s cancer is progressing. Throughout the film, we are taken through spouts of reality and fiction as Will recounts the stories that the great Edward Bloom had told his son when he was young.
From the story of young Edward’s (Ewan McGregor) birth to the how he met Sandra, the tales get so tall that I would suspect that Karl the Giant had told them himself. But, though fascinating and gospel to young Will, the stories stopped being believable when Will grew up. Now, all the guy wants is some closure for all the vears of lies and rather sadly unbelievable tales of romance, adventure, and even fraud. But Edward Bloom is persistent and stubborn like most older men and Will is standoffish towards his father for good reason.
It appears that Edward believes in the stories just as much, if not more, than Will does, and maybe that’s why he can’t tell his son the truth. The movie is really a masterpiece from beginning to end, starting with a great story that reels (Literally) you in from the second you hear Albert Finney’s amazing southern accent. The movie is not only good fun in itself, but it really has an incredible cast, featuring award-winning actors and actresses such as: Billy Crudup, Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Danny Devito, and so many more.
The film also features a very relatable message and conflict. From a personal standpoint, I can see why Will is frustrated with his father (I mean, old men are DIFFICULT to deal with) but I can also see why Edward isn’t willing to give up that sense of wonder and fantasy just because his son wants to know the boring details of his life. Tim Burton really drew us in and if there’s one thing that the movie taught me, it’s to not try and catch a fish with my wedding ring, because I might miss my son’s birth and/or have to wrestle with the monster to get it back.
No, but honestly, the movie taught me that some things aren’t worth letting go and that it’s okay to believe in a little magic. So call your dad. Or call your grandad. Right now. Ask him to tell you about the time that he rode on dinosaurs or the time that he caught a baseball using only his head. Ask him for the most ridiculous and satirical version of a real life story. Because in the words of Will Bloom: “It doesn’t make sense and most of it never happened, but that’s what kind of story this is. “