More sugar than saccharin, but still not filling

Tim Burton returns with a drama. Big Fish is a decent film, but the unreached potential of the movie left me feeling a little empty.

In the movie, a son returns to the house his father is dying in. They have been estranged for a few years because the father's endless stories have finally overwhelmed the son's patience. The son has come to believe that none of his father's stories are true and is struggling to know who his dad really is. In the end, he realizes that his father's story are who he really is. He also realizes that although some of the details have been amplified, nearly all of the stories are true. His father dies before he comes to this greater understanding, but there is a reconciliation.

In the movie, the storyline in the present is standard film fare. You can sense that Burton is rushing to to weave the fantastical stories from the past into the movie. No one can blame Burton. The reconcilliation of the father and son is only midly compelling. The stories from the past are mostly burtonesque, but even they are a little dull. Characters are taller, colors are exaggerated or bleached, scenes are more lush, and the people are bigger than life. These scenes felt a little like Forest Gump mixed with Hudsucker Proxy. Certainly more charming than Forest Gump but none of the humor of the Coens. These scenes carry the movie, but they don't seem to have enough of Burton's magic.

There are good performances from a variety of characters. Buscemi's turn as the town poet is humorous. His best effort at poems end up being dull rip offs of 'roses are red...'. Devito's ringleader is a decent role. Jessica Lange puts in another believable performance as America's idealized wife.

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