Big Fish [2003]

After a string of mediocre movies, director Tim Burton regains his footing as he shifts from macabre fairy tales to Southern tall tales. Big Fish twines in and out of the oversized stories of Edward Bloom, played as a young man by Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge, Down with Love) and as a dying father by Albert Finney (Tom Jones). Edward's son Will (Billy Crudup, Almost Famous) sits by his father's bedside but has little patience with the old man's fables, because he feels these stories have kept him from knowing who his father really is. Burton dives into Bloom's imagination with zest, sending the determined young man into haunted woods, an idealized Southern town, a traveling circus, and much more. The result is sweet but--thanks to the director's dark and clever sensibility--never saccharine. Also featuring Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Danny DeVito, and Steve Buscemi. --Bret Fetzer

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