Directed by Tim Burton.
Written by John August. Based on the novel by Daniel
Starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney and Billy Crudup.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 12/30/03
Kind of like John Woo, I see anything that
Tim Burton puts out. Actual fact: Burton co-produced “Cabin Boy”,
which was until “Hard Vice” the worst film I had ever seen. With
both directors, I have experienced many highs and lows; with Burton,
my high is still “Batman”, but I still cringe at “Planet of the
Apes”, his most recent effort. What does all of this mean? Two
things: yes, I will be seeing Woo’s
“Paycheck” because I simply
have to, and “Big Fish” is a good film that combines almost anything
you have seen in Burton’s other films and gives it strong dramatic
backing thanks to the book on which the film is based.
The story of “Big Fish” follows Edward Bloom
from the time he is 18 until he is much older; the younger Edward (Ewan
McGregor) is the biggest thing in a small town in Alabama, and by
the time he is 18 he’s the best looking, most athletic, most
intelligent, most...anything guy in town. At least, that’s the
picture painted by the modern-day Edward (Albert Finney), who often
tells his son Will (Billy Crudup) about his outlandish adventures as
a young’un, including how he met his wife (Jessica Lange), how he
met a giant (Matthew McGrory), how he joined the service, and how he
teamed up with Chinese twins (Ada & Arlene Tai) to fight his way out
of a stage show. Will has spent his whole life listening to these
crazy stories, and as his dad fights for his life due to a medical
ailment, Will searches for some truth as closure to his troubled
relationship with his dad.
The best thing about “Big Fish” is that the
logic behind why the two men want what they want makes perfect
sense. Edward enjoys telling tall tales, and his reasoning behind
this becomes increasingly clear as the film goes along; Will,
thinking that his father’s life has just been a lie since he was
able to figure out that men are normally not ten feet tall, wants to
know if anything his dad has been telling him has even a shred of
truth behind it. The performances by both Finney and Crudup are
both great, mostly because they are so believable. I can’t say I
have any relatives that have told tales to me nearly as crazy as
Edward does in the movie, but I (like many of you) have an uncle or
two that took me aside when I was younger to try and wax poetic
about something that happened to them. That makes “Big Fish” all
the more entertaining if you have someone like that in your life.
Visions like the setting of Spectre, Alabama
in the film are classic Burton; the look of “Big Fish” resembles
much of the look of earlier Burton works like “Pee-Wee’s Big
Adventure” and “Edward Scissorhands”, or even a couple of the
sequences from “Ed Wood.” Another Danny Elfman score makes you feel
right at home, and past Burton employees like his girlfriend Helena
Bonham Carter and Danny DeVito keep you warm at night.
Damn, this is a good movie. I’ll admit,
though, later in the film, I felt myself itching to look at my
watch, and I was surprised later to see that the film was only about
two hours long; a couple of the young Edward flashbacks were too
much for me. But, the ending came back and left me quite satisfied.
Good times, people, good times.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard