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"BIG FISH"
(2003) (Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Mild Moderate *Moderate Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate Minor Heavy Minor Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Moderate Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Fantasy: A man tries to come to terms with the life and what sound like tall tales told by his dying father.
PLOT:
Edward Bloom (ALBERT FINNEY) has always been a storyteller and usually one of what sound like extravagant tall tales. While his wife, Sandra (JESSICA LANGE), has never minded, such wild sounding and repetitive stories eventually drove a wedge between Edward and his adult son, Will (BILLY CRUDUP).

Now that Sandra has called Will to inform him that his father is dying and under the care of Dr. Bennett (ROBERT GUILLAUME), Will returns home for the first time in years with his wife, Josephine (MARION COTILLARD). Once there, he tries to figure who is father is.

As he does so, we hear stories of Edward's varied and wild-sounding life as a child. That includes when he saw his eventual fate in the eyes of a local Witch (HELENA BONHAM CARTER) and then later as a young man (EWAN McGREGOR) when he met Karl the Giant (MATTHEW McGRORY) who accompanied him for the first time from his small town. We also see when he first spotted young Sandra (ALISON LOHMAN) while working for circus man Amos Calloway (DANNY DeVITO) and had repeated run-ins with famed poet Norther Winslow (STEVE BUSCEMI).

With the recounting of additional wild sounding characters and stories, Will tries to separate the man from the myth, all while his father recalls his life in his last remaining days.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of director Tim Burton, fantasy style films or anyone in the cast, they just might, but this one otherwise seems most attractive to middle to older teens at best.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For a fight scene, some images of nudity and a suggestive reference.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • EWAN McGREGOR plays Edward as a young man who falls for young Sandra and has many varied adventures at home and abroad.
  • ALBERT FINNEY plays a dying man who's always enjoyed repeating what sound like tall tales of his younger days, traveling around the world and meeting all sorts of people. He briefly uses some profanity.
  • BILLY CRUDUP plays Edward's adult son, the only person not to believe or at least be charmed by his tall tales. He's gone for a long time until his mother's request brings him home where he tries to figure out who his father really is.
  • JESSICA LANGE plays the older Edward's loving wife who wants him and Will to reunite before Edward's death.
  • HELENA BONHAM CARTER plays both a witch who lets Edward as a boy see his eventual fate in her eyes and a woman who came to love Edward as a young man after meeting and waiting for him many years before that.
  • STEVE BUSCEMI plays a poet who Edward first meets in an idyllic town and then again as a bank robber.
  • MATTHEW McGRORY plays a giant who wanders into young Edward's town and then accompanies him on their journey from it.
  • DANNY DeVITO plays a circus man who employs (and takes advantage of Edward) and appears to be some sort of werewolf (or at least turns into a wolf). He briefly uses some profanity.
  • ALISON LOHMAN plays Sandra as a college student who finds herself the object of young Edward's attention.
  • ROBERT GUILLAUME plays the family doctor who cares for the ailing Edward.
  • MARION COTILLARD plays Will's wife who tries to understand his reluctance to believe and/or accept his father for who he states he is.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this drama/fantasy that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 3 "s" words and a slang term for sex, while a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases are used.

    Nonsexual nudity includes the brief sight of a man's bare butt and several brief glimpses of a somewhat mystical skinny-dipper (bare butt, partial bare breast, complete form in silhouette). A rocking camper believed to be caused by sexual activity inside isn't, while a man is briefly seen reading Playboy magazine (no photos are seen).

    Violence includes some young men beating up a person (with some brief bloody results), some wartime, action-style fighting and some other physical contact. Some of those scenes and others may be unsettling, suspenseful or even scary to some younger kids (but probably not to older ones or adults), while various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, and a few smoke or drink.

    Tense family material includes a strained father/son relationship and dealing with a parent who's dying. Some imitative behavior is present as is the brief sight of some circus elephants defecating. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to motion sickness, the camera focuses on Young Edward as he spins around while dancing, thus creating a dizzying effect (as it seems as if the camera is also spinning around, with the background zipping by in a blur).


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People make a toast with champagne.
  • A man tells Young Edward, "Let me buy you a drink."
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see an elephant defecating (graphically) and Young Edward shoveling up such material that's already on the ground.
  • A wolf jumps from a camper and attacks Young Edward, leaving a few scrapes on him.
  • Young Sandra's fiancÚ, Don, and a small gang approach Young Edward. Don punches Young Edward in the face and then does so again, but Young Edward doesn't fight back since he promised Sandra he wouldn't. Don then kicks Young Edward on the ground and repeatedly punches him in the face, leaving his face (and teeth) a little bloody.
  • We see bruises on Young Edward's face.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Will breaks off contact with his father for years due to tiring of repeatedly hearing the same tall tales.
  • We see kids dressed as Indians and young Edward (as a young adult) dressed like their chief while camping (some viewers might not like that).
  • Amos takes advantage of Karl with a business contract and then hires young Edward to work for free in exchange for one tidbit about young Sandra per month.
  • Young Sandra's fiancÚ, Don, beats up Young Edward.
  • Young Edward encounters Norther in a bank and then realizes (after it's too late) that he's robbing the place. Norther fires some warning shots into the ceiling, aims his guns at some of the people and then makes Young Edward assist him (Young Edward does, but only to prevent anyone from getting hurt, and he later sets Norther straight).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • While adults and older kids likely will have little if any problem with the following material, some of it might be unsettling, suspenseful or even scary to some younger kids.
  • A mother screams during childbirth and her baby pops out and then slides (in an exaggerated fashion) down a hospital hallway (no blood or goo).
  • A cat screeches and suddenly darts across young Edward's path as he slowly heads toward a swamp house believed to be inhabited by a witch.
  • We briefly see Young Edward running out of a burning house, carrying a dog he's just saved.
  • As some suspenseful music plays, we see the shadow of a giant crossing over the land and some huge hands reaching out for a sheep.
  • Young Edward goes to find an elusive but apparently huge giant in his cave and finds bones and vultures outside the entrance. The giant comes out, but he turns out not be menacing (although that intro, his size and Young Edward initially appearing ready to sacrifice himself -- that turns out to be played for humor -- might be unnerving for younger viewers).
  • Young Edward decides to head down a scary-looking road (that's reportedly haunted) at night by himself. Along the way, a bird steals his hat and he throws a rock at it, but hits a beehive instead. The bees swarm around him (leaving some welts on his face), and he then encounters a spider nest and has several large spiders on him.
  • A large snake slithers toward a nude women across the surface of a body of water.
  • We see several leeches on Young Edward's legs after he goes into a lake.
  • Young Edward heads back through the supposedly haunted forest at night and encounters several trees that seem to come to life. Some roots wrap around his feet and the tree branches come at him. Yet, when he states that this isn't the way he's supposed to die, the trees go back to normal and he proceeds on his way.
  • We briefly see Young Edward's head in a lion's mouth as part of a circus act.
  • A wolf jumps from a camper and attacks Young Edward, leaving a few scrapes on him. A clown then tries to shoot the wolf with a pistol, but apparently hits Young Edward in the arm (although he later appears to be okay).
  • Young Sandra's fiancÚ, Don, and a small gang approach Young Edward. Don punches Young Edward in the face and then does so again, but Young Edward doesn't fight back since he promised Sandra he wouldn't. Don then kicks Young Edward on the ground and repeatedly punches him in the face, leaving his face (and teeth) a little bloody.
  • Now in the military, Young Edward parachutes behind enemy lines where explosions are going off in the background. After landing, he punches one soldier and we hear sounds of more punching. He then hits that man with a rifle and then pushes him off a catwalk (we don't see where he falls). Moments later, he rappels down onto another soldier, knocking him down. Even later, we hear the sounds of violence as Young Edward hits and knocks out two more enemy soldiers (in the dark).
  • In an imagined and symbolic scene, an adult son takes his ailing father into a river, lowers him down into it and we then see the father's face disappear down into the water. While not inherently disturbing (and it's actually quite touching), some younger kids might not get the symbolism and might find it unnerving.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Pistols/Rifles: Carried and/or used to shoot at a wolf, fire some warning shots during a bank robbery and hit a person during wartime. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "That's bull-S-H-I-T" (said spelled just like that), "You were hot sh*t back in Hicksville," "Your mom's a bitch," "Screw you up," an incomplete "Why you son of a..." "Coon dog," "Damn, kid," "Jerks" and "Who the hell are you?"
  • The film could inspire kids to tell tale tales of their own.
  • In a circus act in the past, a housecat is hoisted up into the air on a platform and then jumps down from that onto a pillow.
  • A circus performer blows fire over a torch and then "eats" the fire (putting it out in his mouth).
  • Young Edward encounters Norther in a bank and then realizes (after it's too late) that he's robbing the place. Norther fires some warning shots into the ceiling, aims his guns at some of the people and then makes Young Edward assist him (Young Edward does, but only to prevent anyone from getting hurt, and he later sets Norther straight).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A cat screeches and suddenly darts across young Edward's path as he slowly heads toward a swamp house believed to be inhabited by a witch.
  • A woman believed to be a witch suddenly opens a door.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful and ominous music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • One half of a pair of Siamese twins sings that she needs twice the man because she has twice the love to give.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 3 "s" words, 1 slang term for sex ("banging"), 3 damns, 3 hells and 1 incomplete "Son of a..."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see the future deaths of two kids later in their lives as adults (from looking in the eye of a witch). One falls from a ladder, while another falls over and off a toilet (from a heart attack) while reading Playboy magazine (all we see is the cover featuring the signature bunny/rabbit design, and we later see this same scene again).
  • From a distance, Young Edward (and we) sees a woman apparently skinny-dipping in a lake at night. We see her bare back as well as the very top of her bare butt. Young Edward then swims toward her, but only because a large snake is slithering toward her across the water. When he gets close to her, we see a closer view of her (again, from behind her, including a brief shot of her bare butt and a brief view of part of her bare breast) before she dives into the water and disappears.
  • Older Edward makes the comment, "My mother was banging the milkman."
  • Young Edward spots a camper rocking back and forth (we're led to believe from sex inside it, but that turns out not to be the case).
  • After apparently turning back into a human from a wolf, we see Amos, who's nude. The camera pans up his body and we briefly see his bare butt.
  • One half of a pair of Siamese twins sings that she needs twice the man because she has twice the love to give. They also show a little cleavage.
  • Older Sandra joins Older Edward in a filled bathtub, but both are clothed and nothing sexual occurs.
  • Will asks Jennifer if she and his father had an affair in the past, but she doesn't directly answer that (we later see that they apparently did not, although she tried to kiss him and he stopped her).
  • Young Edward ends up underwater in his car (in a fantasy type moment with no suspense) and spots the above skinny-dipper swimming by. We briefly see her bare butt, the silhouette of her shape as she passes by, and then another shot (from further away) of her bare butt (all underwater and in a dimly lit setting).
  • SMOKING
  • A few characters briefly smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Will isn't happy with his father always taking center stage with his grandiose stories and he confronts him about that at what appears to be Will's wedding rehearsal dinner. We then hear that the two didn't talk for three years following that.
  • Will gets a call from his mom that they're going to stop chemo treatments on his father. Accordingly, he returns home for the first time in years to see his dying father.
  • Will asks his mom how much time his father has left. She's mad and says that you don't talk about that, and then adds, "Yet."
  • Older Edward talks about having dreams of a crow as a boy and that they signaled the death of people in his life.
  • In the past, a wife gets (what turns out to be false) news that her husband is dead (he later returns to her).
  • Josephine asks Will if he loves his father and he replies that his father was gone more than he was there (when Will was a boy).
  • Will tells Older Edward, "I have no idea who you are." In response, Older Edward says that he's telling the truth and that if his son can't see that, it's his failing and not the father's.
  • We hear that Older Edward had a stroke and isn't doing well.
  • A man is dying and then dies, and his family must deal with that.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Dealing with a dying family member.
  • Tall tales.
  • We then hear that Will and his father didn't talk for three years following an arguement.
  • Edward sees his future death in the eye of a witch (we don't), but is fascinated rather than scared.
  • We see twins who are joined at the hip (two torsos, but only two legs between them).
  • The comment that fate has a way of circling back on a man and taking him by surprise.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see the future deaths of two kids later in their lives as adults (from looking in the eye of a witch). One falls from a ladder, while another falls over and off a toilet.
  • Karl the giant's breath (in volume) knocks Young Edward down to the ground. Young Edward then throws a large rock that hits Karl, but doesn't harm him. Moments later, Karl slaps away Young Edward's hand.
  • Some bees sting young Edward, leaving some welts on his face.
  • Played for laughs, we see a spinning amusement park ride car hit Young Edward and send him flying through the air (he's okay).
  • A wolf jumps from a camper and attacks Young Edward, leaving a few scrapes on him. A clown then tries to shoot the wolf with a pistol, but apparently hits Young Edward in the arm (although he later appears to be okay).
  • Young Sandra's fiancÚ, Don, and a small gang approach Young Edward. Don punches Young Edward in the face and then does so again, but Young Edward doesn't fight back since he promised Sandra he wouldn't. Don then kicks Young Edward on the ground and repeatedly punches him in the face, leaving his face (and teeth) a little bloody.
  • Now in the military, Young Edward parachutes behind enemy lines where explosions are going off in the background. After landing, he punches one soldier and we hear sounds of more punching. He then hits that man with a rifle and then pushes him off a catwalk (we don't see where he falls). Moments later, he rappels down onto another soldier, knocking him down. Even later, we hear the sounds of violence as Young Edward hits and knocks out two more enemy soldiers (in the dark).
  • Young Edward encounters Norther in a bank and then realizes (after it's too late) that he's robbing the place. Norther fires some warning shots into the ceiling and aims his guns at some of the people.
  • Young Edward tries to yank open a stuck front door and it accidentally comes off and lands on a table.
  • In an imagined scene, two hospital orderlies fall over a cart that Older Sandra puts into their path.
  • In an imagined scene, Karl the giant gently overturns a car that's in Will's way.



  • Reviewed November 11, 2003 / Posted December 25, 2003

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [American Made] [Battle of the Sexes] [Flatliners] [A Question of Faith] [Stronger]

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