| A bit of the way into Tim Burton’s Big Fish I had a Paycheck-style flash into the future and my mind flashed with images of what the ending would include. Without possessing the faculties to go back in time and stop Tim Burton from hurting his best film since Ed Wood, I simply sat there hoping to be wrong. (SPOILER) I thought to myself: “Self, please let Burton be smart enough not to end with a funeral scene where all the characters from Albert Finney’s tall tales appear and definitely don’t have Billy Crudup look at them arrive with his jaw gaped. That would surely be a very stupid development for so many reasons that I don’t need to start explaining them to you, because you are a smart dude and you have seen enough films to know how utterly stupidly stupid that would be. How would Crudup even recognize these characters as the same from his story? Did Crudup somehow visualize the story IN THE EXACT SAME WAY as Burton? If this film ends like that you will have no choice but drop the grade at least ten points.”
So needless to say the grade is about 10 or so points less than it should be, as I was enjoying the film a great deal more than 70 for most of its running time and felt a great amount of emotional resonance with the story it was telling. The scene before the truly stupid ending scene, is one of the most moving moments of a film that I have seen for awhile: taking what had been fun flights of fancy for Finney and shifting them into the sad defense mechanism of a man who was never capable of the accomplishments for which he strove. The hospital scene wraps all the previous scenes with a melancholy that extracts much of the syrup from the tall tales that came before. Although the perspective of these tales changes their impact does not and they contain some very beautiful moments of sentiment and delightful stretches of excessive storytelling. Finney’s storyteller here is similar to the creator characters in many of his works: with the hopeless optimism hiding failure that resembles Ed Wood, or the ability to shape the world surrounding him with his imagination like the protagonist of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. It is of course no mistake the storyteller here shares a fondness and fascination with the outsider and the shunned people, most of them living at the edge of town unexpected by the small town mentality, as it is a fascination that echoes Burton’s own mentality as expressed in his films.