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Movie of The Day: Big Fish (2003)

“A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.”
How many of us have met someone who always tells us "tall tales?" Are they true stories or are they mostly exaggerated? As you watch this film your mind may well be asking that question: Is Albert Finney's life as Ed Bloom, a mere figment of his imagination or did he actually live all those "adventures"?
"Big Fish" combines Burton's unusual humor with a heart-wrenching story of a father-son deathbed reconciliation. Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor share the role of Ed Bloom, one of the big fish from the movie's title while an SUV-sized catfish plays the other. Bloom is a metaphorical and literal big fish in the small pond of Ashton, Alabama in this tale told mostly through flashback. Jessica Lange plays his wife and Billy Crudup plays the son, Will, estranged from his father for the past three years. Father and son are reunited as Finney lies dying of cancer.
Ed Bloom has spent his life spinning his personal history into mythological proportions: an early encounter with a very tall man becomes a battle with a house-sized giant; a rural village is depicted as heaven on earth; military service during the Korean War morphs into a behind-the-lines mission that would make Duke Nukem proud. Originally a true believer, Will now knows everything his father has told him was not just an exageration or even a tall tale but an outright lie. In his effort to understand the truth behind his father's stories he learns to love the man as well as the mythology.
Burton deals with mythic themes in "Big Fish." Besides the surface story of the generational tension between father and son he explores the metaphor of the big-fish-in-a-small-pond by examining the impact Ed Bloom has had on the lives he's touched in his workaday contacts with colleagues, customers (he's a traveling salesman), and people in the small towns across the South. Not exactly "It's A Wonderful Life," he still manages to show how all of us - even the little fish - have profound effects on the people around us. And of course love -unrequited and reciprocated - control almost all of Ed's many adventures.
It's a heart warming, funny movie where fantasy and reality go hand in hand and the possible is as likely as the impossible. It's filmed so perfectly that if it doesn't touch you, you must be a corpse… 10/10


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