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Big Fish (2004)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 213
Fresh: 163 | Rotten: 50

A charming father-and-son tale filled with typical Tim Burton flourishes.


Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 18

A charming father-and-son tale filled with typical Tim Burton flourishes.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 494,480

My Rating

Movie Info

Tim Burton directs the fantasy drama Big Fish, based on the book Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Southern writer/illustrator Daniel Wallace. Billy Crudup plays William Bloom, a young man who never really knew his dying father, Edward (Albert Finney) outside of the tall tales he told about growing up, making his way, and meeting his mother (played as a young woman by Alison Lohman and in older age by Jessica Lange). During Edward's last days, William and his wife Josephine (Marion


Drama, Comedy

John August

Apr 27, 2004


Sony Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (213) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (163) | Rotten (50) | DVD (46)

The film doesn't so much reject history as selectively rewrite it to its own reactionary, even offensive ends. This might perhaps be just about tolerable were the film funny, illuminating, insightful or moving. It is not.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Overall, the film feels like it issues from a place Burton doesn't inhabit.

August 7, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Magazine | Comment (1)
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Burton shows the rivalry between father and son but not the rancor, which seems to fit with the film's calm lyricism. But the father-son conflict is meant as the dramatic crux, and a forceful actor would have given it some much-needed bite.

March 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A compelling look at the relationships between fathers and sons, and the child coming to terms with the parent's mortality.

January 8, 2004 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A long-winded indulgence in tear-and-a-smile whimsy.

December 26, 2003 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A disappointingly dull thud of a fantasy.

December 26, 2003 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Delightful, sad father-son story for teens and up.

December 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Reliant more on powerful familial emotions than wacky splendor, "Big Fish" treads as close to our real world as Tim Burton ever could - a melancholy dissection of paternal distance and never truly knowing how many lives those we love can truly affect.

September 25, 2010 Full Review Source:

Burton, favoring form over content, flavor over fact, has been often criticized for not knowing how to bring his work to satisfactory resolution. But I'd call that a good thing. Blame it on his dad.

August 21, 2009 Full Review Source: City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul

Burton invokes the imagination from his crowd and succeeds in making us gasp in wonder.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed | Comment (1)
Cinema Crazed

Never has going fishing or getting caught been such a treat.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

For all the story's twists, there are no real surprises (the ending is obvious 10 minutes in), and Burton's flourishes of self-satisfied frippery annoy as much as they amuse.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review | Comment (1)
Sacramento News & Review

Unfortunately, up until the end, the tall tales are far more interesting than reality.

December 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Big Picture Big Sound | Comments (6)
Big Picture Big Sound

I enjoyed Big Fish more than any film Burton has been involved with since maybe Nightmare Before Christmas.

July 23, 2007 Full Review Source:

For the first time since Ed Wood, Burton has transcended his hermetically-sealed world and connected with wider concerns.

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A tale that's so enriching, so heartwarming, so funny, so touching and so breathtaking, you'll wonder why the king of wackiness didn't branch out sooner.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Big Fish is a stunning piece of work that is not only sincere and full of passion, but is based on a world that is normal...well, about as normal as you're going to get for a Tim Burton movie that is.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Think The Arabian Nights meets Grimm's Fairy Tales with just a touch of Forrest Gump and The Wizard of Oz tossed in for good measure.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Plays to Burton's strengths as an auteur of fantasy colliding with reality.

November 11, 2005 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

The film's core is all heart, but surrounding the dramatic moments is a pure sense of humor that generated more genuine laughter than any comedy I've seen in recent years.

July 5, 2005 Full Review Source:

An ebullient tall tale about the magic of imagination and the power of myth.

May 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

Big Fish is, in the end, a small tale, but it's a beautifully told one.

March 5, 2005 Full Review Source: NYC Film Critic
NYC Film Critic

[Burton] celebrates the empty imaginings of the lost, because he assumes there is no real liberation, there is no glory awaiting us, except that which we invent for ourselves.

January 15, 2005 Full Review Source: Christianity Today
Christianity Today

Un film délicieux que l'on écoute avec légèreté et qui fait passer un bon moment grâce à son humour, sa féerie, mais aussi dans la façon dont il nous touche.

December 16, 2004

Burton has crafted a sweet yet bizarre film seeming at times like 'The Twilight Zone' in Oz.

October 30, 2004 Full Review

Audience Reviews for Big Fish

Will Bloom: A man tells so many stories, that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.

"An Adventure As Big As Life Itself."

Big Fish is a very interesting movie. The plot jumps around and while we are being told the stories, we, like the child of the man in the stories, don't know what's true and what's false. Now, Big Fish isn't one of my favorites from Tim Burton, but it does show some expansion in his filmmaking. This movie is more real life than anything he's ever done. Sure there's some fantastical elements that remind us of other Burton films, but this one is so much more different than anything he's ever done.

Big Fish is the life story of a dying old man, Ed Bloom. He is a storyteller, that tells fantastical stories about his life, which seem to have little to do with reality. His son, Will, also is under the belief that the stories are made up. Either way we get to hear and see the stories the way Ed would have told them.

There's a lot of bizarreness going on here as you would suspect with any Burton film. There's a giant, a witch, a humongous fish, and a love story that stops time. Overall the plot elements add up to a pretty satisfactory story even if something seems to be missing from he overall outcome.

Big Fish is a film I more appreciate then enjoy. I never have fallen in love with it, but it always entertains and intrigues me. It's well worth a watch as it has solid direction from Burton and it boasts a strong and well-know cast.
April 5, 2013
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Fantasy movie by Tim Burton. A man is dying of cancer. His son is desperate to know his father. He tells him how he met his mother. Great cast and story.
February 12, 2013
T Tsang

Super Reviewer

Tim Burton may be the biggest name attached to Big Fish, but its really screenwriter John Augusts' movie, as he masterfully adapts a book about storytelling into a movie about storytelling with ease. In fact, I'd say the biggest detriment to the film is Burton himself, who seems out of his element, trying to cling to any creepy element he can find. In the non-fantastical scenes, his direction is boring and bland; without any crazy stylistic flourishes, he seems to simply get the easiest shots possible. The actors in the movie are all incredibly talented, yet for some reason, none of them seem to be at their best (except maybe Albert Finney). In the end, the story is involving and deep enough to carry all the flaws to the end, making Big Fish an understandably flawed but nonetheless ambitious and charming adventure.
December 8, 2012
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

A continuously surprising journey, highly re-watchable, and one of the best endings I've ever seen. May be Burton's best.
November 20, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Ed Bloom (Young): There are some fish that cannot be caught. It's not that they are faster or stronger than the other fish, they're just touched by somethin' extra.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (2 months ago)
    1. Dr. Bennett (Senior): Not very excitin', is it? And I suppose if I had to choose between the true version and an elaborate one involvin' a fish and a wedding ring, I might choose the fancy version. But that's just me.
    2. William Bloom: I kinda like your version.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Dr. Bennett (Senior): Did your father ever tell you about the day you were born?
    2. William Bloom: A thousand times. He caught an uncatchable fish.
    3. Dr. Bennett (Senior): Not that one. The real story. Did he ever tell you that.
    4. William Bloom: No.
    5. Dr. Bennett (Senior): Your mother came in about three in the afternoon. Her neighbor drove her, on account of your father was on business in Wichita. You were born a week early, but there were no complication. It was a perfect delivery. Now, your father was sorry to miss it, but it wasn't the custom for the men to be in the room for deliveries then, so I can't see as it would have been much different had he been there. And that's the real story of how you were born.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Sandra Bloom (Senior): I don't know if you're aware of this, Josephine, but African parrots, in their native homes of the Congo, they only speak French?
    2. Josephine: Really?
    3. Edward Bloom (senior): You're lucky to get four words out of them in English, but if you were to walk through the jungle, you'd hear them speakin' the most elaborate French. Those parrots talk about everything. Politics, movies, fashion. Everything but religion.
    4. William Bloom: Why not religion, Dad?
    5. Edward Bloom (senior): It's rude to talk about religion. You never know who you're gonna offend.
    6. William Bloom: Josephine actually went to Congo last year.
    7. Edward Bloom (senior): Oh, so you know.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Ed Bloom (Young): And now what are you doin'?
    2. Norther Winslow: I'm robbin' this place!
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Amos Calloway: Sure I do! You were hot shit in Hickville, but here in the real world, you got squat! You don't have a plan, you don't have a job, you don't have anything except the clothes on your back.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
View all quotes (42)

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