Big Fish

Directed by Tim Burton

> > May 2004

Big Fish - Directed by Tim Burton
By Monica S. KueblerJust in time for the holidays, Tim Burton's Big Fish gets the special boxed treatment. Included in the decorative but classic brown slipcover case is an extras-loaded DVD and a slightly disappointing hardcover "fairy tale for a grown-up" comic, but more on that later. Big Fish is one of those love it or hate it films. The people it touches it touches deeply, a visit to any movie message board will confirm that; it's even reduced some grown men to tears. And that's one of Burton's great strengths: aside from making gorgeous films that create an aesthetic that can only be described as Burton-esque, he can get to the root of relationships and literally paint their essence onto the screen. That's what he does with Big Fish, the story of a estranged son, Will Bloom (Billy Crudup), who returns home after hearing that his father is on his death bed, in hopes of discovering the real story of his father's life. His dad, Ed Bloom (Albert Finney/Ewan McGregor), is a storyteller, a man who's always filled his son's head with tall tales of his life (or are they?). The Ed Bloom of these stories is a generous man, an adventurous man, a brave man and an incurable romantic, while Will is full of practicality. As such, the movie is less about discovering the truth of Ed Bloom (does it really matter if his stories are stretched a little or a lot?) as it is about a strained father/son relationship and the last chance they have to understand each other and consolidate it. Big Fish is also about magic, about the value of creating something magic from the mundane. It's a message movie and despite its flaws, which predominantly fall into the pacing category, it successfully succeeds in telling it. The casting is virtually flawless and dialogue is well-written; it injects the perfect amount of sentimentality without making the audience feel manipulated; it only helps that the theme is so universal. The DVD-extras include seven featurettes, three about developing and portraying the characters and four about the making of the film, all which effectively serve to bolster one's appreciation for the movie. There's also a director's commentary by Burton and a small trivia game. Packaged with the DVD is the aforementioned story book, illustrating only a tiny portion of the Big Fish tale, it feels like a novelty, included only to drive up the price of this otherwise fantastic package. Despite this, Big Fish still deserves a second look. (Sony)

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