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Big Fish

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Big Fish

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney
Director: Tim Burton
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 125 Minutes
Release Date: January 2004
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Alison Lohman, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Steve Buscemi, Helena Bonham Carter, Brandon Carroll, Destiny Miley Cyrus, Matthew McGrory, Mark McWhorter, Missi Pyle

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

BIG FISH is an overstuffed Christmas movie about a dying father who has spent his life telling non-stop tall tales to his family and about his estranged, grownup son who wants his dad to stop lying and finally tell the truth. This PG-rated fairy tale for adults is directed by Tim Burton (SLEEPY HOLLOW) and features Albert Finney as the father, Edward Bloom, and Billy Crudup as his son, William. Ewan McGregor, as the young adult Edward, is actually the star of the movie as well as of all of the older Edward's whoppers. The episodic story has a cast of thousands that includes parts for Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito, among others.

As the father retells his oft-told tales, he peppers us with little homilies. "A giant of a man can't have an ordinary sized life," the younger Edward remarks. His character is so much like a slightly smarter Forrest Gump that I kept waiting for the Ping-Pong competition.

DeVito plays Amos, a circus ringmaster and the owner of a giant, Colossus (George McArthur), not quite as big as Karl (Matthew McGrory), Edward's giant. Amos likes to lecture Edward with thoughts such as, "You're a big fish in a small pond; but this here is an ocean, and you're drowning." Edward works for three years for Amos while getting one clue a month as to the identity of the woman that Edward saw once briefly in a crowd and fell in love with. MATCHSTICK MEN's female lead, Alison Lohman, plays the part of Edward's love interest. Like the rest of the cast, Lohman was much better in every other movie she has been in.

The movie works sporadically but then falls into another long lull. Burton seems more interested in the fanciful set decoration that in fashioning a compelling story. The characters' bad and wavering Southern accents are an apt metaphor for the movie itself. The accents come and go but sometimes, as much by accident as by design, they do ring true.

BIG FISH runs a long 2:00. The film is rated PG for "a fight scene, some images of nudity and a suggestive reference" and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up, but most kids will find little to interest them in the story.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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