Big Fish - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Big Fish Reviews

Top Critic
Geoff Andrew
Time Out
February 9, 2006
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.
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Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
August 7, 2004
Overall, the film feels like it issues from a place Burton doesn't inhabit.
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
March 16, 2004
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 | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
January 8, 2004
A compelling look at the relationships between fathers and sons, and the child coming to terms with the parent's mortality.
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
December 26, 2003
A long-winded indulgence in tear-and-a-smile whimsy.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
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Desson Thomson
Washington Post
December 26, 2003
A disappointingly dull thud of a fantasy.
Top Critic
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
December 26, 2003
Somewhat like Forrest Gump on a high colonic.
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
December 25, 2003
Burton's fabled imagination runs wild with this material, and Big Fish often achieves a whimsical, poetic beauty.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
December 25, 2003
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
Top Critic
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 25, 2003
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
Top Critic
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
December 25, 2003
Herniated whimsy -- straining, as labored as those poor Brits who stuff their mouths with grits and try to talk like Southerners.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
December 25, 2003
Burton, who has clung to the trappings of precocious genius well into his 40s, demonstrates a new emotional maturity.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
December 25, 2003
An enchanting tale from Tim Burton that weaves together reality and myth so touchingly it hardly matters which is which.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Tom Long
Detroit News
December 25, 2003
Funny, touching, smart, whimsical, dazzling and, at times, downright magical.
| Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
December 25, 2003
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+
Top Critic
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
December 25, 2003
A bountiful pleasure.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
December 25, 2003
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 | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
December 25, 2003
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 | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
December 25, 2003
The picture's images linger.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
December 25, 2003
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 | Original Score: A
Top Critic
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
December 25, 2003
A whopper of a movie, told by the master of the modern-day fairy tale, Tim Burton.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
December 25, 2003
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 | Original Score: 4/4
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Todd McCarthy
Variety
December 23, 2003
The imaginatively illustrated but precariously precious film offers up a string of minor pleasures but never becomes more than moderately amusing or involving.
Top Critic
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
December 23, 2003
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 | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
December 22, 2003
... an amazing looking film.
Top Critic
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
December 16, 2003
Big Fish makes a big push for transcendence, but the strain shows. It's like trying to push a daydream uphill.
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
December 11, 2003
A load of tripe that no attempt on my part could make sound half as pretentious and conceited as it really is.
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Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
December 10, 2003
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.
Top Critic
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
December 10, 2003
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.
Top Critic
Mike Clark
USA Today
December 10, 2003
Big Fish takes a while to get its bearings, but it gets better and better.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
December 10, 2003
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 | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
John Anderson
Newsday
December 10, 2003
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
December 10, 2003
Burton's best film since Edward Scissorhands.
Top Critic
A.O. Scott
New York Times
December 10, 2003
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 | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Megan Lehmann
New York Post
December 10, 2003
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
Top Critic
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
December 10, 2003
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 | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
Los Angeles Times
December 10, 2003
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 | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
December 9, 2003
Big Fish is a clever, smart fantasy that targets the child inside every adult, without insulting the intelligence of either.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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J. Hoberman
Village Voice
December 9, 2003
The ideas keep percolating, but in the absence of any particular tension, the movie has its longueurs.
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Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
December 4, 2003
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.
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
December 4, 2003
A gently overstuffed cinematic piņata, 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 | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
December 1, 2003
Belabored oddity that is one long-winded tall tale illustrated with hammy, artificial sets and gee-whiz acting.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
November 20, 2003
Director Tim Burton finally hooks the one that got away: a script that challenges and deepens his visionary talent.
| Original Score: 3.5/4