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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Big Fish

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“Big Fish”
Rated PG-13
2003

No one expected giants, werewolves and conjoined twins to be grace notes in a Tim Burton film. But 2003’s “Big Fish” — Burton’s finest yet, setting aside ‘80s-youth nostalgia — found fantastic elements in the great unknown of everyday existence, where even the biggest dreamers sometimes find all they need in the smallest ponds.

Reliant more on powerful familial emotions than wacky splendor, “Big Fish” tread as close to our real world as Burton could — a melancholy dissection of paternal distance and never truly knowing how many lives those we love can truly affect.

“Fish” also had some of The Zeroes’ most inspired dead-ringer casting for aging characters — Alison Lohman to Jessica Lange, for starters, and Ewan McGregor to Albert Finney as Edward Bloom — the tall tale-telling father to a skeptical son (Billy Crudup) visiting home as Edward’s health fails.

Edward’s fanciful flashbacks — including a town with a manicured lawn where Main Street should be — make up much of “Big Fish.” But Burton relays them with the similarly quizzical characterization of a winking grandfather — Edward’s probably fooling, but a nugget of truth is probably deeply embedded somewhere within.

As far-reaching as Edward’s adventures seemed to be, the comforts of home, love, family and friendship ran as constants, and the embellishments he loaned them only made them funnier, weirder, sweeter.

“Big Fish’s” immensely moving finale never somberly dwelled on a death that we all perceived. Instead, it extolled, and expounded upon, the virtues of a generous life, lived openly and lived well.

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3 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Big Fish”

  1. Corey Miller says:

    I was smart enough to see this in the theaters and wasn’t let down. It’s a wonderful film that people should really see. The sad part is that many people haven’t.

  2. [...] artist Oliver (Ewan McGregor of 2003′s “Big Fish”) has to come to terms with the revelation that his father Hal (Christopher Plummer, still going [...]

  3. Bobby McFerrin says:

    This makes my list of top 10 movies. I know that won’t be the case with many people, but I just connect with this movie. It’s hard not to be taken into a different world when Edward tells his stories. As one known to embellish on stories from time to time, I was touched by the idea that even as adults, we can take our everyday experiences and find something extraordinary in them.