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Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
'Big Fish' a classic American tall tale
Critic's Corner

by DNA Smith

“Big Fish” is a classic American fish story, a Tall Tale — well, at least it tries to be.

The film stars Albert Finney as Edward Bloom, a former traveling salesman from Alabama who is known for his amazing stories. Ewan McGregor co-stars as the younger version of Bloom, whom we see in many flashbacks.

Bloom has a son named Will (Billy Crudup), who works as a reporter in Paris. According the tale, the day Will was born, Bloom was battling the largest catfish in the world, which he caught using his wedding ring as bait.

Will has had to put up with his father’s tall tales all his life. He’s had to listen to stories of giants, a witch with a glass eye who can see into the future, and streets paved with grass.

Will has also had to live in the shadow of this mountain of a man. So, after putting up with so much, he leaves and doesn’t speak to his father for years.

Will returns home after receiving a call that Bloom is dying. He hopes that maybe there can be some reconciliation with his father. And given the Forrest Gumpish-tone of “Big Fish,” I think we all know how it’s going to turn out.

Director Tim Burton has made a career out of telling tall tales with such classics as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Edward Scissorhands,” but “Big Fish” doesn’t come close to matching the boundless imagination or the heart of those films. “Big Fish” is more like an even worse version of Forrest Gump (if such a thing is possible).

The performances by Finney and McGregor are top-notch, and take what could’ve been a very awful film and raise it to the level of mediocre.

See “Big Fish” as a matinee, if you really must see it on the big screen. But, honestly, it’s only worth a rental.

“Big Fish”

Running time: 110 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

(c) 2004 King Features Synd., Inc.

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