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BIG FISH

Sometimes you want something so much, you canít help but be a little disappointed when you get it. Such is the case with Big Fish, eccentric director Tim Burtonís acclaimed movie. I rarely follow the hype a movie gets unless itís comic book related or a horror film (and thatís just because Iím a real wimp and I need to know what to expect!). So even though I was hearing Oscar buzz and a lot of praise for what was being called Burtonís "grown up film", I tried to avoid it. Still, it was in the back of my head, and despite myself, I was getting very psyched to see what this cool director was gonna follow up his last movie (the disappointing PLANET OF THE APES) with.

What we get is Big Fish, a touching but rather slow look at the strained relationship between a man and his raconteur father. The son, played nicely by Billy Cruddup, can hardly forgive his father for never being there, and for always spitting out tall tales as opposed to cold, hard facts. The father, played in present day by Albert Finney and in flashbacks by Ewan McGregor, sees nothing wrong in being just the way he is. Both Finney and McGregor are excellent. Finney has a sweet, charming demeanor. Heís a demanding screen presence, even though most of his scenes having him bed ridden. McGregor has a larger than life, fantastical persona in his younger years on screen. He really excels in these roles, as his excellent work in Moulin Rouge illustrates. In his older years, his character seems much more subdued.
I dunno, I may have missed something.

I should also mention the work of Alison Lohman and Jessica Lange, who play the younger and older versions of Finneyís / McGregorís wife. They do a nice job as well. Also appearing, though you may not realize it at first, is Helena Bonham Carter, who somehow replaced the lovely actress and model Lisa Marie as Tim Burtonís real life leading lady. She does a nice job too, but I have to say that her American accent isnít as impressive as other Brits that act American from time to timeÖ

When weíre not in flashbacks, the story, while moving, is a bit slow. In the flashbacks though, itís vibrant and engrossing, and kind of funny at times too. I particularly liked McGregorís initial visit to the pleasant little town of Spectre. Thereís actually a lot to like in the flashbacks, and I would imagine, as with most cases, the book is better than the movie. Iíll find out for sure soon enough, because that will be the next book I read. Iím that curious.

B+

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