Big Fish (2003)
Article 5466 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Tim Burton
Featuring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup
What it is: Drama…sort of
The son of a man dying from cancer tries to rebuild his relationship with him. He wishes to know the true story of his father’s life, but his father had a penchant for exaggeration and wild story-telling.
In some ways, this movie was a bit of a departure for Tim Burton, but in other ways, it is not. It is primarily a drama about a father/son relationship (though there is plenty of humor in the story as well), which is a novelty coming from Burton. However, since the story is laced with the father’s elaborate exaggerations, it gives Burton a chance to incorporate many fantastic elements; before it’s all over, you’ll encounter witches, giants, mermaids, Siamese twins and werewolves. The best performances come from Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney (both in the same role as the father, younger and older versions). The movie is packed with other familiar faces and names; I especially like Steve Buscemi as a poet turned bankrobber turned tycoon and Matthew McGrory as the giant. It’s an engaging and unusual film in which the central question becomes just how extensive the father’s exaggerations are; there’s a great scene near the end of the movie where we find that perhaps there was more truth in the father’s stories than you might have expected. I’ve not seen all of Burton’s oeuvre yet, but this ranks near the top of the ones I’ve seen.