A/V Room









Big Fish - US reaction

Compiled by: Jack Foley

IT APPEARS that Tim Burton may be back on form, after the relative disappointment of his Planet of the Apes remake.

The majority of critics in America have hailed his latest movie, Big Fish (released at the height of the Oscar season, and starring Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor), as his best work in ages; even though a minority still had cause for concern.

The film tells the heart-warming story of a fabled relationship between a father and his son and is described by the Newark Star-Ledger as ‘Burton's best film since Edward Scissorhands’.

Rolling Stone opined that ‘director, Tim Burton, finally hooks the one that got away: a script that challenges and deepens his visionary talent’.

While the New York Observer notes that ‘not only is Mr Burton at the top of his form in endowing his tallest stories and wildest magical conceits with emotional conviction, but he is aided by a superb acting ensemble that never loses its footing in the treacherous swamps of make-believe’.

Impressed, too, was the New York Post, which wrote that ‘there are quirks aplenty in Big Fish, but spirited performances from a talented cast, led by a standout Finney as the slippery-fish raconteur, help domesticate the wall-to-wall weirdness’.

And E! Online, which noted that ‘nobody paints a moving picture as fantastically as writer-director Tim Burton. Again, he hooks viewers with the wonderful Big Fish, although the magic sometimes overpowers the storytelling’.

Less impressed, however, was the Hollywood Reporter, which described it as ‘a belabored oddity that is one long-winded tall tale illustrated with hammy, artificial sets and gee-whiz acting’.

And the New York Times, which wrote that 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’.

Worse still, was an alternative review by the New York Observer’s Rex Reed, who wrote it off as ‘a load of tripe that no attempt on my part could make sound half as pretentious and conceited as it really is’.

But Entertainment Weekly enjoyed it, referring to it as ‘a gently overstuffed cinematic piñata, 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’.

And the Los Angeles Times, which opined that ‘big fish often swim in small ponds, but in Tim Burton's wistful new film about a son, a father and the lies that come between them there are no small ponds - just big, bright movie sets shimmering and bubbling with the director's imagination’.

Strong, too, was USA Today, which felt that ‘Big Fish takes a while to get its bearings, but it gets better and better’.

And Reelviews, which concludes this round-up by stating that ‘Big Fish is a clever, smart fantasy that targets the child inside every adult, without insulting the intelligence of either’.

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