• PG-13, 2 hr. 5 min.
  • Drama, Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Tim Burton
    In Theaters:
    Dec 10, 2003 Wide
    On DVD:
    Apr 27, 2004
  • Sony Pictures

Opening

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Big Fish Reviews

Geoff Andrew
Time Out
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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.

Full Review Source: Time Out

February 9, 2006
Peter Rainer
New York Magazine
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Overall, the film feels like it issues from a place Burton doesn't inhabit.

Full Review Source: New York Magazine

August 7, 2004
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
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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.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Original Score: 2/4

March 16, 2004
Paul Clinton (CNN.com)
CNN.com
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A compelling look at the relationships between fathers and sons, and the child coming to terms with the parent's mortality.

Full Review Source: CNN.com

January 8, 2004
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
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A long-winded indulgence in tear-and-a-smile whimsy.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 1/4

December 26, 2003
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
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A disappointingly dull thud of a fantasy.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

December 26, 2003
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
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Somewhat like Forrest Gump on a high colonic.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

December 26, 2003
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
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Burton's fabled imagination runs wild with this material, and Big Fish often achieves a whimsical, poetic beauty.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

December 25, 2003
Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
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Clocking in at two hours, it runs way too long for a flight of fancy, packs a couple of false endings, and, a first for Burton, feels flat and familiar, like recycled Ray Bradbury.

| Original Score: 2/4

December 25, 2003
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
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For me, a Will who wishes she were an Edward, the movie inspired by the Daniel Wallace novel is a minor classic.

| Original Score: 3/4

December 25, 2003
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
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Herniated whimsy -- straining, as labored as those poor Brits who stuff their mouths with grits and try to talk like Southerners.

Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Original Score: 3/5

December 25, 2003
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Burton, who has clung to the trappings of precocious genius well into his 40s, demonstrates a new emotional maturity.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 3.5/4

December 25, 2003
Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
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An enchanting tale from Tim Burton that weaves together reality and myth so touchingly it hardly matters which is which.

Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle | Original Score: A-

December 25, 2003
Tom Long
Detroit News
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Funny, touching, smart, whimsical, dazzling and, at times, downright magical.

| Original Score: B+

December 25, 2003
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
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It's gentle and pleasing and I appreciated the mixture of oddness, whimsy and emotion that informs Burton's search for the place where truth and fiction meet.

| Original Score: B+

December 25, 2003
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
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A bountiful pleasure.

Full Review Source: Denver Post | Original Score: 3.5/4

December 25, 2003
Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
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Offers its audience a long and winding road, with refreshing pauses. And it proves that mega-budgets have not spoiled Tim Burton's vision.

Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News | Original Score: B

December 25, 2003
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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There is no denying that Will has a point: The old man is a blowhard. There is a point at which his stories stop working as entertainment and segue into sadism.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 25, 2003
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
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The picture's images linger.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 25, 2003
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Mostly confined to bed throughout the film, Finney pulls us to him with a flawless combination of theatrical skill and movie-star radiance.

Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Original Score: A

December 25, 2003
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
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A whopper of a movie, told by the master of the modern-day fairy tale, Tim Burton.

| Original Score: 4.5/5

December 25, 2003
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
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Burton has not given his imagination such free rein since Edward Scissorhands, and this stands with that and the equally generous Ed Wood as one of his best movies.

Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press | Original Score: 4/4

December 25, 2003
Todd McCarthy
Variety
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The imaginatively illustrated but precariously precious film offers up a string of minor pleasures but never becomes more than moderately amusing or involving.

Full Review Source: Variety

December 23, 2003
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
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Big Fish is so strange and so literary that audiences seeking conventional fare may get impatient with it. But it always takes effort to catch the big ones. This one is worth it.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 3.5/4

December 23, 2003
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
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... an amazing looking film.

Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper

December 22, 2003
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
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Big Fish makes a big push for transcendence, but the strain shows. It's like trying to push a daydream uphill.

Full Review Source: TIME Magazine

December 16, 2003
Rex Reed
New York Observer
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A load of tripe that no attempt on my part could make sound half as pretentious and conceited as it really is.

Full Review Source: New York Observer

December 11, 2003
Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
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The whole seems disjointed, incoherent and lacking in the startling originality of the other two Edwards (Scissorhands and Wood) who, half a career back, poured from Burton's distended outsider imagination.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly

December 10, 2003
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
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You'd think that Burton, whose movies can be so invigoratingly nasty or so hypnotically moody, would be able to pull off a gentle, mainstream crowd-pleaser without making it dull or preachy. But Big Fish is both.

Full Review Source: Salon.com

December 10, 2003
Mike Clark
USA Today
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Big Fish takes a while to get its bearings, but it gets better and better.

Full Review Source: USA Today | Original Score: 3.5/4

December 10, 2003
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
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A change-up delivery from a director seeking relief from his artful image, the movie wants to catch our ears rather than our eyes, and it does so without completely reeling us in.

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 3/5

December 10, 2003
John Anderson
Newsday
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Big Fish flounders largely because Burton leaves out the meaning of the story, which was about the seductive power of fiction. In offering no meaning besides pictures, Big Fish has no power at all.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 2/4

December 10, 2003
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
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Burton's best film since Edward Scissorhands.

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger

December 10, 2003
A.O. Scott
New York Times
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The most curious thing about this magical-realist fable ... is how thin and soft it is, how unpersuasive and ultimately forgettable even its most strenuous inventions turn out to be.

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 2/5

December 10, 2003
Megan Lehmann
New York Post
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There are quirks aplenty in Big Fish, but spirited performances from a talented cast, led by a standout Finney as the slippery-fish raconteur, help domesticate the wall-to-wall weirdness.

| Original Score: 3.5/4

December 10, 2003
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
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The movie has a great deal of charm and several good performances, but it is the son's judgmental doggedness that sets the story in motion and leads to its mawkish conclusion. It's a hurdle I couldn't get over.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 10, 2003
Manohla Dargis
Los Angeles Times
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Big fish often swim in small ponds, but in Tim Burton's wistful new film about a son, a father and the lies that come between them there are no small ponds -- just big, bright movie sets shimmering and bubbling with the director's imagination.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 3.5/5

December 10, 2003
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
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Big Fish is a clever, smart fantasy that targets the child inside every adult, without insulting the intelligence of either.

Full Review Source: ReelViews | Original Score: 3/4

December 9, 2003
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
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The ideas keep percolating, but in the absence of any particular tension, the movie has its longueurs.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

December 9, 2003
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
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Not only is Mr. Burton at the top of his form in endowing his tallest stories and wildest magical conceits with emotional conviction, but he is aided by a superb acting ensemble that never loses its footing in the treacherous swamps of make-believe.

Full Review Source: New York Observer

December 4, 2003
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
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A gently overstuffed cinematic piñata, crammed with tall tales -- with giants and circuses and fairy-tale woods, plus a huge squirmy catfish, all served up with a literal matter-of-fact fancy that is very pleasing.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B

December 4, 2003
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
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Belabored oddity that is one long-winded tall tale illustrated with hammy, artificial sets and gee-whiz acting.

December 1, 2003
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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Director Tim Burton finally hooks the one that got away: a script that challenges and deepens his visionary talent.

| Original Score: 3.5/4

November 20, 2003
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