Big Fish (2003) Movie Review


Cast:  Ewan McGregor plays the younger version of Ed Bloom who reenacts all the stories told by Albert Finney who plays the older version of Ed Bloom. Billy Crudup plays Will Bloom (Ed Bloom’s son) who has been estranged from his father for years, but decides to return upon hearing his illness and pieces together all his father’s stories to figure out what it is about the people his father met that has made him who he is. The beautiful Jessica Lange plays the older version of Sandra (when she is married). Alison Lohman plays the younger version of Sandra and Marion Cotillard plays Will’s wife, Josephine Bloom. Matthew McGrory played Karl the giant who befriends young Ed Bloom and accompanies him in his adventure. UK’s talented actress Helena Carter, Tim Burton’s lady love in real life, plays a witch with a glass eye who young Ed Bloom sees into to see how he dies when his time comes.

Basic movie facts: Steven Spielberg originally was supposed to make this film, but Tim Burton took over in place of him instead. When young Ed Bloom lands in Korea during a show, there are four languages being spoken: Tagalog, Mandarin Chinese, Korean and Cantonese. I know. I’d be very confused too. One of my favorite French actresses named Marion Cotillard, makes her first American film debut with this movie. This movie is based on a book by author Daniel Wallace who plays Sandra’s economic professor in the film. It’s always fun when an author of a book makes an appearance in a movie based off their book. It’s even more fun when you see the Director make a cameo in his own film too such as when Tim Burton played a clown who leaps out of the way from the wolf. Look for that scene next time you watch this movie. Upon seeing pictures of a younger Albert Finney, casting directors wanted Ewan McGregor to play the younger version of Ed Bloom because they looked so similar.

(Albert Finney)

Pros: This is one of my top 3 favorite movies of all time. I love what the story represents and how every person that walks into your life not only shapes your future, but has an everlasting impact on you, even if it’s only for a short time. This is something I’ve always had to grapple through life as everyone else in the world does too. This story “Big Fish” is what I’m going through right now with my mother who has stage 4 cancer. Unlike Ed Bloom, I believe all her wild adventures through the jungles of Brazil and other parts of the world. I’ve heard them over and over again being told to people. I’ve never gotten tired of hearing them (ok, maybe a few times), but they are fun to listen to just to hear the reactions of people listening to them. Often I would catch my boyfriends sitting on the couch as she would tell my childhood stories-much to my embarrassment, depending on what story it was. I especially love the one where she tells of how she delivered me at birth. She was a nurse at the time. She has written a journal telling of her adventures and has given me hundreds of slides that I need to transfer into a DVD for her about her life in Brazil. She wants to write a book one day and has lots of journals she has kept the past decades to organize into a book. Her life story would be interesting. I often wonder who she’d like to play her. Maybe I’ll ask her this weekend.

Cons: It pains me to even write in this section, but as beautiful as this movie was filmed, there were several editing errors. Did I mention there were several errors in the movie? Allow me to take a moment to bang my head on my bedroom wall for a few seconds. Ok. I’m back. Take notice of Sandra’s hands on the tub before and after when she is in there with her husband. You can see some equipment cables towards the end of the movie when the father becomes a fish in the water. The hands of one of the hoola hoop girls is different in two quick scenes during a “frozen” time and let’s not forget the notarized seal on the deed which any real estate person will say is a no-no since a notary has to be present. That’s just to begin with, but who is counting?

Music score: Danny Elfman. What can I say about that man? It would take me a hundred years. His music resonates through my mind and my soul. His music moves me much like my favorite compose who ever lived, Mozart. If Mozart was alive today, I’m sure Elfman and he would be best of friends because their music are so similar in so many ways. It’s hard to describe. The reason I say is that I listen to Mozart a lot and am familiar with all his music as I am with Elfman’s music. On my ipod, you would find several Elfman songs and if you have seen some of my Vimeo videos, you’ll see I’ve always added Danny Elfman’s song “Finale” for my ending credits. I think Tim Burton having Elfman score his movies is a match made in heaven; those two go very well together. One of my all time favorite scores is from Edward Scissorhands called “Ice Dance” which is so magical, sweet and epic. Maybe I’ll use it when I go to Canada and I see Quebec City for the first time for my vacation video. A movie isn’t quite a movie until you hear his first notes for the opening of a scene and it happens to be from Danny Elfman.


Favorite quote: There were several favorite quotes in this movie I loved, but here are three of my favorites.

“Sandra Templeton, I love you and I WILL marry you!”. What girl doesn’t like a guy with that amount of confidence? I know I do!

“There’s a time when a man needs to fight, and a time when he needs to accept that his destiny is lost… the ship has sailed and only a fool would continue. Truth is… I’ve always been a fool.” Best.Quote.Ever. (This goes for girls too).

“They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true. What they don’t tell you is that when it starts again, it moves extra fast to catch up.”


Audience reaction: I own this movie and it was my first DVD purchase. I’ve watched this so many times; I just love it.

Relatability: I can relate to Ed Bloom (the younger version) in how fearless he is when it comes to some things. I can relate to his determination in his goals and persistence in how to achieve it (Quebec City in my case). The older version of Ed Bloom with the very last scene is one that always gets me a little choked up. Wouldn’t it be nice to see everyone who you have encountered (at least the ones you would want to see) throughout life be there to say goodbye to you before you passed on? To have everyone clap their hands and have big smiles as you passed them by? I hope I have many more years here on earth so I can continue to encounter day by day the many different people who have made my days and years sprinkled with happiness.

30 thoughts on “Big Fish (2003) Movie Review

    1. Yes, great minds think alike! I pick up something new too each time I watch it. I just like the music, the narration and the fantasy of it all. Danny DeVito is slightly creepy in this one as a wolf, but that’s how it is. I’m still trying to continue with my life story and add some fun adventures here and there. The fun is only beginning! 😀


  1. Some of it feels like Burton’s trying too hard to be normal and tell a heartfelt story, but it all comes together in the end and hits you harder than you originally thought. Good review.


    1. Hey! Thanks for stopping by! Burton…trying to be “normal”? Say it isn’t so! 🙂 I like Burton’s way with films. They are definitely different. There are some instances where he does try too hard, but it’s still got that Burton element to it. I especially love the ending… 🙂


  2. Great movie review. As you know I love this movie alot and it’s a favorite! Danny Elfman is one of the greatest movie composers ever lived. I agree with you with the similiar between these two great composers; Danny Elfman and WA Mozart. Oh, yes they would get along together. I love the music in this one too. Once again a great job! 🙂


    1. LOL! Wait….when we dated a few years ago, did I make you watch this movie? I tend to do that. Make the people I date watch some of my favorite movies. “Only You” is still my favorite rom/com with Robert Downey, Jr (favorite actor). He’s so crazy in that film and Marisa Tomei is just like me in that one, hahahahaha! Tack for stopping by dude! 😛


    1. It’s a cute and cool movie. I’m sure you’ll like it. If not, well, at least you tried. 🙂 No, I’m adopted. My mom had long, glorious dark blond hair (past her waist) when she worked in the jungle and has green eyes. She’s half German and Irish. I’m, on the other hand, too exotic to even look related to her. People have mistaken me as her maid on a few occasions down in Brazil and even her “caretaker” when I help her around here in the USA. It just peeves me that people “assume” things about me and her. OR! You’ll love this. They “assume” I’m her “daughter-in-law” because my last name is Smith so they call me “Mrs. Smith” ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME!!!!! LOL! I don’t wear a ring on my left finger!!!!!!!! :O


      1. I already get that about our little Calvin. He is half black/half white and everyone assumes that either me or my wife are black when we are not together. Some people have wondered how we can love him because he didn’t come from us. Anyways, there is a lot of ignorance as you know. Is that Big Fish on Netflix? That would be great. Her adventures in the jungle sound fantastic. Can I be the scriptwriter?


  3. Big Fish as a great movie – not the least because I think Ewan McGregor is a great actor. And then I am a big fan of Tim Burton, which makes it needless to say I am happy that it wasn’t Steven Spielberg who finally directed the movie. Thanks for reminding me of this feast of a movie.


    1. Hey Munchow! Yes, Ewan is amazing! It still astounds me how foreigners as far away as Scotland can speak with a Southern accent! I can’t do it. I’ve tried and I speak perfect English. Oh well. I guess it’s just a talent some people are able to have. It would not be as magical if Steven Spielberg had made it, I totally agree!


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  5. Loved this movie. There was something about Jessica Lange’s character that I absolutely adored. In this role, she very much reminded me of my wife.

    Oddly enough, I even enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter in this film, and thought she nailed her role really well. I typically think she’s a little too creepy, eccentric, and downright depressing. Somehow, in Big Fish she became that mysterious creature that she always (in my opinion) tries way too hard to be.

    Well, I started to continue with my take on the different characters, but you’ve done a fine job of summing it all up. This is in my top fifty. Maybe thirty.


    1. Isn’t Jessica beautiful? Love her! 🙂 The blond woman in your recent blog, is she your wife? She’s very pretty! Did you see Helena in Alice in Wonderland? Off with your head!! She was funny in that movie! Glad you love Big Fish! It’s definitely one of my all time favorites! 😀


    1. Oh yay! I love it when one of the 3 men and a movie stops on by! 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed it! I fell asleep the first time I watched it only because I had 3 hours of sleep. Good movie, just sad… thanks for the comment!


  6. Pingback: Big Fish: The 7 life lessons of Edward Bloom | bloggy balboa

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