Friday, February 13, 2004

Big Fish (IMDB) (Netflix)
Tim Burton's latest, about a tale-telling dad (Albert Finney), who's incessant fish-that-got-away fables have alienated his more just-the-facts-ma'am son (Billy Crudup). Finney is dying, however, and Crudup returns home in a last attempt to figure out who his dad really is. Told through a series of flashbacks, with Ewan McGregor as the younger version, Jessica Lange as the mom, and a cavalcade of the oddball characters that Burton loves so much.

This will be a fuzzy recollection, having viewed this film some weeks ago, but I do know that I was intrigued, entertained and — toward the end — moved by this innovative father-son story. Burton always has affection for those who seem most at home working in the circus, and Finney, Crudup and Lange easily handle the more melodramatic passages. McGregor carries much of the load, however, and does it with charm, responding to each novel situation with mixture of wonder, acceptance and bravado. The standard deviation of the real critics' reactions is surprisingly high, but it's difficult to see what they're complaining about. A charmer.