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Big Fish (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Fantasy  |  9 January 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 333,268 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 809 user | 233 critic | 42 from

A son tries to learn more about his dying father by reliving stories and myths he told about his life.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 45 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Price - Age 18-22
Beamen (as Loudon Wainwright)


United Press International journalist Will Bloom and his French freelance photojournalist wife Josephine Bloom, who is pregnant with their first child, leave their Paris base to return to Will's hometown of Ashton, Alabama on the news that his father, Edward Bloom, stricken with cancer, will soon die, he being taken off chemotherapy treatment. Although connected indirectly through Will's mother/Edward's wife, Sandra Bloom, Will has been estranged from his father for three years since his and Josephine's wedding. Will's issue with his father is the fanciful tales Edward has told of his life all his life, not only to Will but the whole world. As a child when Edward was largely absent as a traveling salesman, Will believed those stories, but now realizes that he does not know his father, who, as he continues to tell these stories, he will never get to know unless Edward comes clean with the truth before he dies. On the brink of his own family life beginning, Will does not want to be the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An adventure as big as life itself.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for a fight scene, some images of nudity and a suggestive reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

9 January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran pez  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$207,377 (USA) (12 December 2003)


$3,559,255 (Japan) (18 June 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| | (8 channels)


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The actor who plays the banjo in Spectre, Billy Redden, is playing the iconic song Dueling Banjos from the film Deliverance (1972) when Edward Bloom arrives for the first time. Redden played Lonnie in Deliverance. See more »


In the bank robbery scene, a small portion of the FDIC logo on a gold colored plate is seen. That particular logo was not used during the era of the movie. See more »


[first lines]
Young Ed Bloom: There are some fish that cannot be caught. It's not that they are faster or stronger than other fish, they're just touched by something extra.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Columbia logo runs in reverse. See more »


References The Evil Dead (1981) See more »


Sammie, Where Have You Been So Long?
Written and Performed by Dock Boggs
Courtesy of Revenant Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Tim Burton's Surprise Heartwarmer
16 February 2004 | by (Virginia) – See all my reviews

I approach Tim Burton films with a certain trepidation. Will it be "Edward Scissorhands" or "Batman II?" With Burton you could get a quirky comedy, a dark thriller, or sweet morality tale. And there's always the possibility of Danny DeVito chomping down on a raw fish.

"Big Fish" combines Burton's unusual humor with a heart-wrenching story of a father-son deathbed reconciliation. Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor share the role of Ed Bloom, one of the big fish from the movie's title while an SUV-sized catfish plays the other. Bloom is a metaphorical and literal big fish in the small pond of Ashton, Alabama in this tale told mostly through flashback. Jessica Lange plays his wife and Billy Crudup plays the son, Will, estranged from his father for the past three years. Father and son are reunited as Finney lies dying of cancer.

Ed Bloom has spent his life spinning his personal history into mythological proportions: an early encounter with a very tall man becomes a battle with a house-sized giant; a rural village is depicted as heaven on earth; military service during the Korean War morphs into a behind-the-lines mission that would make Duke Nukem proud. Originally a true believer, Will now knows everything his father has told him was not just an exageration or even a tall tale but an outright lie. In his effort to understand the truth behind his father's stories he learns to love the man as well as the mythology. And Burton delivers a terrific punchline at the end of the film that left me both tickled and weeping, a truly weird emotional state.

Burton deals with mythic themes in "Big Fish." Besides the surface story of the generational tension between father and son he explores the metaphor of the big-fish-in-a-small-pond by examining the impact Ed Bloom has had on the lives he's touched in his workaday contacts with colleagues, customers (he's a traveling salesman), and people in the small towns across the South. Not exactly "It's A Wonderful Life," he still manages to show how all of us -- even the little fish -- have profound effects on the people around us. And of course love -- unrequited and reciprocated -- control almost all of Ed's many adventures.

The acting is wonderful. You will actually believe two Brits and a Scot (Finney, Helena Bonham Carter, and McGregor) are natives of small town Alabama. Lange brings dignity and brio to the role of the long "suffering" wife -- and she still looks great(!)-- you believe she has had a long and loving life with Finney/McGregor. DeVito is a delight in the role of a circus ringmaster. But the scene-stealer is Bonham Carter in the dual role of Jenny and the crone witch.

I rated this movie ten stars and when you see it you'll do the same.

201 of 239 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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