Monday, January 3, 2011

Movies You Might Have Mondays

The film I picked for the first Movies You Might Have Monday of 2011 epitomizes, for me, the vision I have for the New Year.

While I understand you might think me strange (it probably wouldn’t be the first time) for choosing a movie directed by infamously eccentric Tim Burton in which the main character is on his deathbed, I hope you’ll give me a chance to explain and then give Big Fish a try.

The first reason I love Big Fish is that it is all about story telling.

Billy Cudrup plays Will Bloom, a young successful journalist (just the facts, please) who hasn’t been home for years, let alone spoken to his father, Ed Bloom, acted by the brilliant Albert Finney. But now that Ed is on his deathbed, Will feels compelled to go home to say goodbye and support his mother, beautiful Jessica Lange as Sandra Bloom. So Will and his wife, an early opportunity for audiences to appreciate Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, fly home from Paris to Alabama.

We, as the audience, soon discover the reason for the father/son estrangement is the fact that Ed is a storyteller, and every time he repeats a story from his adventurous life, Will rolls his eyes and dismisses them as ridiculous embellishments and down right lies – big fish stories. Instead of absorbing them as parts of his father unique character, Will sees the stories as brick upon brick building an impenetrable wall between them.

Will does not anticipate, however, that his wife has not heard these stories before, and therefore provides a new audience for Ed’s favorite past time. So as Ed tells Josephine of his adventures, and Will reluctantly listens in, we get to experience the colorful past of Edward Bloom.

In the flashbacks, Ewan McGregor plays young Ed, and Alison Lohman a young Sandra. Many other recognizable faces show up in these reminisces, every cameo adding to the fun outrages of Ed’s stories – Robert Guillaume, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito, Deep Roy, even Miley Cyrus and that guy who plays Roy on The Office.

But these stories aren’t just stories. Each one has a lesson of sorts, giving them a fable quality. The main point, though, is the second reason I love this movie.

It’s all about relationships.

Questioning whether or not Ed’s stories are true takes a back seat to an intricate dance of meeting, interacting and bonding with people. It’s about kindnesses and compassion and understanding and loyalty and true friendship. In the midst of those friendships, a touching romance unfolds as Ed pursues and wins the love of his life. All combines to produce a legacy that Ed wants to pass on to his son.

This film is perhaps most, though, a love story between father and son. The end makes me tear up every time, when the two finally get on the same page.

I know folks out there who refuse to watch a Burton-directed film since his style tends to be wacky and weird. Although I love Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, even Sweeny Todd, I can understand why the Burton Brand wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

But Big Fish is the most normal, if you can say such a thing, and though it has fairy tale qualities and takes exaggeration to its limits, the story is about real people. And thus, reveals the beauty of imaginative storytelling.

Sometimes looking back becomes the only way we learn to appreciate a blessing or a person or a situation, accompanied with regret for not realizing it sooner. Watching Big Fish gives us the gift to witness someone else’s deathbed chronicle and realize the potential for life now before it has passed us by.

Life can be exciting, blessed, magical and fun if I allow it, trust God with my adventure, and I’m thankful for each day to live to its fullest.

I hope you get a chance to watch Big Fish and I hope you live 2011 to its absolute heights.

God bless! And Happy New Year!

(photos by


lynnrush said...

Hey, I've actually seen this one! It was weird. Not one of my favorites, but cut nonetheless. :)

Jay Harris said...

"Big Fish" reminds me of all the wrongs turns I made. Like Ed Bloom, I pray my ending also becomes reality before God takes me home.