Ewan McGregor as Young Ed Bloom
Albert Finney as Senior Ed Bloom
Billy Crudup as Will Bloom
Jessica Lange as Senior Sandra Bloom
Alison Lohman as Young Sandra Bloom
Helena Bonham Carter as Jenny/The Witch
Robert Guillaume as Senior Dr. Bennett
Marion Cotillard as Josephine Bloom
Matthew McGrory as Karl
David Denman as Bon Price
Missi Pyle as Mildred
Loudon Wainwright III as Beamen
Ada Tai as Ping
Arlene Tai as Jing
Steve Buscemi as Norther Winslow
Every person has a past and Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) has a colorful one. His stories about that past are loved by everyone except his own son Will (Billy Crudup). Will has heard them all before, and his father's larger than life exploits have led Will to realize that he knows nothing but big fish tales about his father.
These fish tales are wonderful. Director Tim Burton's artistic style is apparent throughout them. Ed Bloom (Ewan McGregor), shown in the story sequences, is constantly overcoming insurmountable obstacles and doing heroic deeds. Those extraordinary deeds overshadow any accomplishments that Will makes on his own, which drives him away until his mother Sandra (Jessica Lange) calls saying that his father is in ill health.
The movie works on several levels. First, all of the embellished tales of Ed's youth are fun to watch and Tim Burton's quirky sense of fantasy makes them leap from the screen. Second, it shows how a person is more than just the myths that he tells about himself. And lastly, it is a touching movie about a man and his relationship to his father.
All of the acting is wonderful. Ewan McGregor plays a larger than life character and is able to still keep him human. The relationships between Albert Finney and the rest of the cast are terrific and in spite of his tall tales, feel honest and very believable.
There is a bit of action in the movie, but it is the quirky Tim Burton type of action that isn't sustained but very enjoyable to watch. The film effects are also done well. Many of the characters are not meant to look believable, but they still look realistic. The score also moves along nicely and never overpowers the actors.
Who should see this movie? Anyone that likes Tim Burton's style will find many things to enjoy here. The acting is wonderful. The movie keeps a good pace, even though it is mostly a film about a man reconciling with his father. There is a bit of mystery and a sweet, even though idealized, romance. There is not much here for action fans, but the movie does keep in constant motion. It is a hard movie to place in a category - it is a mixture that works very well.