Best of the Decade #7: Big Fish
To some people that really know me, this next selection might come as a bit of a surprise. I’m not a huge fan of Tim Burton and his incessant casting of Johnny Depp (an overrated actor in my opinion) and his fiance Helena Bonham Carter. Even still, he is responsible for my seventh favorite movie of the decade: 2003’s Big Fish.
My gripe with Burton is that he is often too reliant on visual style, putting less emphasis on the story. One of his best works, 1994’s Ed Wood, was a stripped down black and white film that simply told a great story about a fascinating character. In Big Fish, he combines his visual flair with a heartwarming fairytale, making it his undisputed masterpiece. Rather than overplaying the beautiful imagery and distracting from the narrative, the visuals serve as a supplement to what is most important… the story.
Like Forrest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Big Fish is a tall tale that is told in flashbacks. While all three of these stories are pretty far fetched, Big Fish probably reaches furthest into the realms of fantasy.
Edward Bloom is the story teller, played in present day by Albert Finney and by Ewan McGregor in flashbacks. His son (Billy Crudup) never believed his dad’s tales, creating a rift between father and son. With his dad now on his deathbed, the son relives these ridiculous stories in an effort to learn more about his father. The stories that ensue are tales of love, adventure, witches and giants.
The end result is a movie that is powerful enough to make a grown man cry. I’ve even heard from some people that it is the only movie that can do such a thing. We have all heard ridiculous stories from our fathers, of going uphill both ways to football practice in a blizzard and so forth. Big Fish is a testament to the mystique of someone’s father and the everlasting bond between father and son that exists even through the toughest times and most heated arguments.