Edward Bloom has always been a teller of tall-tales about his oversized life as a young man, when his wanderlust led him on an unlikely journey from a small-town in Alabama, around the world, and back again. His mythic exploits dart from the delightful to the delirious as he weaves epic tales about giants, blizzards, a witch and conjoined-twin lounge singers. With his larger-than-life stories, Bloom charms almost everyone he encounters except for his estranged son Will. When his mother, Sandra, tries to reunite them, Will must learn how to separate fact from fiction as he comes to terms with his fathers great feats and great failings.
After a string of mediocre movies, director Tim Burton regains his footing as he shifts from macabre fairy tales to southern tall tales. Big Fish
twines in and out of the oversized stories of Edward Bloom, played as a young man by Ewan McGregor and as a dying father by Albert Finney. Edward's son Will (Billy Crudup) sits by his father's bedside but has little patience with the old man's fables, because he feels these stories have kept him from knowing who his father really is. Burton dives into Bloom's imagination with zest, sending the determined young man into haunted woods, an idealised southern town, a travelling circus and much more. The result is sweet but--thanks to the director's dark and clever sensibility--never saccharine. The film also features Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Danny DeVito and Steve Buscemi. --Bret Fetzer