Some directors really find their niches in Hollywood. They
comfortably locate homes in certain genres or styles of filmmaking.
Few, however, actually make a movie that brings to fruition their
creative goals — one that fully actualizes their potential.
Tim Burton has finally done this with “Big Fish.”

Janna Hutz
Clearing gutters, getting by, looking ahead, the day you die. (Courtesy of Sony)

Certainly most of his previous works showcased his boundless
imagination and directorial acumen, but “Big Fish” is
the glove designed for his creative hand; it fits perfectly.

“Fish” is a tale of a father and son who, having
known each other for “so long,” as the narrator once
says, are like perfect strangers. Everyone knows and loves Edward
Bloom (Albert Finney [older], Ewan McGregor [younger]) as a
personable, congenial yarn-dispenser — that is, everyone
except Will (Billy Crudup, “Almost Famous”), his son.
Will resents Edward’s continual storytelling and hopes to get
to know his father for his true self beneath the many

When Edward falls ill, Will returns home and, with the aid of
his mother (Jessica Lange [older], Alison Lohman [younger]) and
wife, helps his ailing father. While sick, Edward is bedridden and
given the ideal opportunity to tell completely his youthful,
surreal adventures. He reels off narratives about a psychic witch,
travels with a giant, a stint in the circus, life in an ideal town
called Spectre, finding his wife and true love and fighting as a
special operations soldier in Japan.

These recollections afford Tim Burton an ideal medium for his
creative artistry. He stretches the imagination significantly and
blends magical realism with sheer absurdity to create episodes that
are peculiar and often humorous. The fantasy is pleasant, and it is
plainly clear why Edward Bloom’s stories and personalities
are so adored.

With an ever-present, ear-to-ear smile, McGregor plays Bloom
with over-the-top whimsy, and he is surrounded by a strong
supporting cast. Steve Buscemi co-stars as a country-bumpkin poet
turned bank robber turned Wall Street financier/adventurer and
Danny DeVito joins the cast as an eccentric circus ringleader. The
gaunt Helena Bonham Carter plays both a witch and a lonesome,
love-deprived woman.

This snug fantasy is perhaps most enjoyable, though, because it
is so resonant. Everyone tells stories, and Edward Bloom tells them
especially well. The personal significance of fables is universally
recognizable, and so is Bloom’s character, regardless of how
fantastic he may, at times, seem. People love him for the
congenial, personable character who comes to life in his fables,
and it’s Will’s own tragic loss that he cannot accept
this earlier.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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