Starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Billy Crudup, Helena Bonham Carter, Alison Lohman, Robert Guillaume, Steve Buscemi
Rated PG-13 for a fight scene, some images of nudity and a suggestive reference
Now, I can safely admit that two things initially led me to this movie: 1) my love for all things Tim Burton (Mars Attacks and Planet of the Apes notwithstanding) and 2) Ewan McGregor *le swoon*. But upon seeing the many previews, and on a spontaneous whim, my good friend Ashanta and I left to the local theater immediately after school and got ourselves some tickets for the soonest showing.
The theater being nearly empty—a fact I had not been used to since I’ve seen RotK multiple times already in a packed house—we nabbed our seats right when the previews began…and more than likely were the only people cracking up when Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light” began to play for an Adam Sandler preview (inside joke to Ashanta and I and the other five people that watched VH1’s Illustrated). I’ve noticed a trend amongst people who have seen this movie, mainly that of distinguishing it into the love it or hate it categories. But, in all honesty, I could find no reason to loathe this movie.
The way in which Tim Burton manages to make the simplistically benign eerie and the eerie almost whimsical is a touch of his that I have grown to love throughout his movies. The forest Ewan travels through in order to get to the little town of Spectre is reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow, and yet there is a fanciful air about it rather than impending doom and the entrance of our beloved Hessian. And at the end of this dank and dreary forest is the tiny town seemingly untouched by then modern technology. The addition of the shoes on the ropes (at first, a slightly creepy image) eventually turns into a symbol of the town. It is in scenes like this, those that create such a stark contrast between each other, which give this movie its mythical feeling. As the movie switches seamlessly between the reality of things and the tall tales of Edward Bloom in his youth, you can immediately feel the change between the two; the lighting differs, the settings create a certain mood that tell you that this is not real and yet it is almost entirely believable.
Ewan does an incredible job as Edward Bloom and, though many have accused his portrayal as being one-dimensional, one must realize that he is playing a character in a story so of course he is going to be the wholesome (albeit somewhat naïve) all-American boy exemplified into the role of the hero…the Big Fish in the small pond. Something to look out for in Ewan’s character, if you like tidbits, Edward’s sixties/seventies hair is almost exactly like Eddie Izzard’s in The Velvet Goldmine, whether intentional or not, it did make me giggle. Though there is one thing that I refuse to believe: Ewan McGregor will never look like Albert Finney. Ever. I mean it. Ever. [Cleo's note: "I have two words for you: Tom. Jones. Oh, wait, you mean when he gets older. Oh, hell no. Carry on."] Speaking of which, many of my fellow people at Fametracker have noted that it looked as though Finney’s face was melting off, and I concur. He wasn’t looking very well. But then again, he wasn’t supposed to, so it works anyway. The transitions between the character’s younger and older forms were seemingly flawless (save for my aforementioned denial). Alison Lohman looks uncannily like a young Jessica Lange which was very pleasing; being that Lange has a very distinct look about her that would seemingly be very hard to translate onto a younger person. But maybe it is just me. Stand out performances included the unconventionally pretty Steve Buscemi (shut it) and Billy Crudup. The latter of which had me all teary in the end. And of course, the Giant, who I instantly got a soft spot for, the big lug.
There were hints, though, that I have been watching too much Carnivale and Lord of the Rings. The latter being that, in the opening sequence, I half expected Ewan to disappear when he put on his gold wedding band and the former being the big circus sequence which prompted me to search for random rousties amongst the crowds. The circus was another aspect I loved and I once again realized that I am taller than Danny DeVito. Go me. The circus itself was beautifully done and the ever-shown Ewan walking through frozen time was very well filmed, especially in its detail with the popcorn sliding down as his body hit it. It gave yet another fantastical feel which runs rampant throughout the film. But, and I mean that you be warned now, beware Danny DeVito’s bare ass which caused me to go blind for several seconds as he looked like a teeny Ron Jeremy, who is creepy enough as it is. Beware. Just take my reaction as a hint: “Aww, look at the puppy, he looks like Padfoot—Ohmaghawdit’sDanyDeVito’sass!!” ::blind:: You have been hereby forewarned.
But in the end, which had me sniffling a bit, it was an incredibly good movie. The kind which is not often seen in modern cinema today, one which makes you think, feel, and believe in this story…unlike many that I have seen as of recent. It is like being a little kid and having these stories told to you through the movie, you believe it even if you know that it is so overwhelmingly whimsical you know that it cannot be true; fairy tales for big kids, if you will. An absolutely beautiful film…damn, I love Tim Burton.