WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A heart-warming and magical tale of a man who returns home to his dying father (Finney) in the hopes of learning the truth about him and the life he led. His entire life, all Will Bloom (Crudup) had ever heard from his father were tall tales and fantastical variations of things that he had supposedly lived through. And now, with a son of his own on the way he finally wants to know the “real” truth about the man that he’s been disconnected with almost his entire life.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Tim Burton has definitely redeemed himself for that 2001 mistake known as PLANET OF THE APES with his latest effort: BIG FISH. It’s got all the charm, beauty and enchantment of one of his most popular films: EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. This is the quintessential Tim Burton movie, complete with heart, eeriness, fantasy, meaning and originality. And for it, he’s assembled the perfect cast. The ladies, in particular, are worth mentioning. Jessica Lange, as the beautiful and supportive wife, Alison Lohman as the younger Mrs. Bloom and Helena Bonham Carter playing duel roles as a witch and a mysterious stranger from Edward’s past. All three actresses not only have a singular beauty, but also deliver very sweet and genuine performances. I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t go bonkers (in a good way) upon seeing Benson (Robert Guillaume) in the film. I also have to give a shout out to Matthew McGrory (who played Karl the Giant); the man does a truly super job in this!!
Add to that, the always-popular Steve Buscemi in another quirky and funny role and you’ve got a great supporting cast to three fantastic lead actors who have never before disappointed me: Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup and Albert Finney. This movie has absolutely everything going for it. Gorgeous settings and art direction, a rockin’ soundtrack, an Elfman score, spot-on acting, a sharp and funny script…but most importantly, it’s got that wonderful fairy-tale quality that’ll have you caring and wanting to invest your time in all the characters from the get-go. It’ll bring out the romantic in you, the kid in you, the sentimentalist in you and the family man in you all at once and leave you with something most movies can’t seem to accomplish much anymore: a long-lasting smile. It’s pure entertainment and pure movie magic. One of the rare times I liked a film even more than I did when I saw it in theatres.
Audio Commentary by Tim Burton: This track also features an interviewer who asks Burton questions while the film plays, but not always necessarily about what’s happening on screen. Still, Tim covers lots of bases, probably more than he would have if he were just commenting by himself on random things about certain scenes and where and how they were shot. I think this was a great idea as it leads more to discover about the project and the man himself.
The Character’s Journey :
Edward Bloom at Large : A nice little feature that has Burton and McGregor talking about the Bloom character, Ewan’s experience filming and the casting of Ewan and Albert for the part of Edward Bloom. Complete with behind-the-scenes takes and montages from the film.
Amos at the Circus : Same deal as the above except replace McGregor with Danny DeVito who plays the ring master/circus proprietor Amos in the film. Also only goes about 4 minutes, half the time of the first feature.
Fathers and Sons: The father and son dynamic is at the very core of this film and its message. In this feature, many of the cast members (McGregor, Crudup, Finney, Buscemi) and filmmakers comment and discuss the many sides to that relationship in the movie as well as in real life. The best of the three sub-featurettes here.
The Filmmakers’ Path :
Tim Burton: Storyteller: Tim, the cast and the crew discuss their love of all things Burton. Okay, not quite...But pretty close. Basically, this feature establishes how the project came to life, the Burton style and all that comes with it. You do get many cast members sounding off on their favorite Burton films though. Mine is ED WOOD, by the way…
A Fairytale World : An excellent feature which explores all the fantastical elements in the film. BIG FISH has as much fairytale, comic book and mythological imagery and ideas to it than any other film and so the cast and crew discuss how they melded all those into a movie that is essentially a drama - in the end. Some effects concerning the giant are also included in this feature.
Creature Features : Stan Winston and his gang of minions share their thoughts on how they brought to life the werewolf, the treacherous trees and the rest of the creepy and slimy happenings in the film. Either exciting or terrible boring, depending on your personality. Basically just like any other effects featurette…
The Author’s Journey : Daniel Wallace, the author of the book on which the movie is based, and John August, the screenwriter who adapted it, both speak about their relationship in working with one another and the journey it took to finally get it to screen. Wallace also expands on some of the little differences between his book and the film and some of the things he was most pleased about by the film and its filming.
Fish Tales : A featurette which allows you to choose an option by which an icon would appear every so often while you view the film and would take you to a more in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the movie. Let it be known that these sub-features they take you to, are the same ones included in the above characters’ and filmmakers’ journeys.
The Finer Points – A Tim Burton Trivia Quiz : This is actually pretty hard unless you’re a die-die-hard Tim Burton fanatic. Fun quiz!!!
My favorite kinds of movies are those that draw a thin line between reality and fantasy, so it’s no wonder that I loved this flick. It’s about unconditional love and fathers and sons and so much more - it’s hard to put into words. But if you like having that very good feeling in your heart at the end of a movie, then this is for you. With its barrage of extras on top of everything else, I can only suggest a purchase for BIG FISH. Easily one of the best father/son movies ever…after FIELD OF DREAMS, that is.