Big Fish Reviews
A gently overstuffed cinematic pinata, crammed with tall tales -- with giants and circuses and fairy-tale woods, plus a huge squirmy catfish, all served up with a literal matter-of-fact fancy that is very pleasing.
The most curious thing about this magical-realist fable ... is how thin and soft it is, how unpersuasive and ultimately forgettable even its most strenuous inventions turn out to be.
The movie has a great deal of charm and several good performances, but it is the son's judgmental doggedness that sets the story in motion and leads to its mawkish conclusion. It's a hurdle I couldn't get over.
Big Fish is so strange and so literary that audiences seeking conventional fare may get impatient with it. But it always takes effort to catch the big ones. This one is worth it.
Burton shows the rivalry between father and son but not the rancor, which seems to fit with the film's calm lyricism. But the father-son conflict is meant as the dramatic crux, and a forceful actor would have given it some much-needed bite.