Release Date: 30th January 2004
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: John August
Producer: Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen & Richard D. Zanuck
Executive Producer: Arne Schmidt
Runtime: 2hrs 05mins
At his son’s wedding party, Edward Bloom tells the same tale he’s told many times over the years: on the day Will was born, he was out catching an enormous uncatchable fish, using his wedding ring as bait. Will is annoyed, explaining to his wife Joséphine that because his father never told the straight truth about anything, he felt unable to trust him. He is troubled to think that he might have a similarly difficult relationship with his future children. Will’s relationship with his father becomes so strained that they do not talk for three years. But when his father’s health starts to fail, Will and the now pregnant Joséphine return to Alabama. On the plane, Will recalls his father’s tale of how he braved a swamp as a child, and met a witch who showed him his death in her glass eye. With this knowledge, Edward knew there were no odds he could not face.
Edward continues telling tall tales, claiming he spent three years confined to a bed as a child because his body was growing too fast. He became a successful sports player, but found the town of Ashton too small for his ambition, and set off with the misunderstood giant Karl. Edward discovers the hidden town of Spectre, where everyone is friendly to the point of comfortably walking around barefoot. Edward leaves because he does not want to settle anywhere yet, but promises to a young girl named Jenny that he will return. Karl and Edward begin working at a circus; Edward works without pay, as he has been promised by the ringmaster Amos Calloway that each month he will learn something new about a girl he fell in love with (at first sight). Three years later, having only learned trivia about her, Edward discovers Amos is a werewolf. In return for his refusal to harm him in his monstrous state, Amos tells Edward the girl’s name is Sandra Templeton and she studies at Auburn University.
Edward learns Sandra is engaged to Don Price, whom Edward always overshadowed during his days in Ashton. Sandra makes Edward promise not to fight Don. Don beats Edward up when he learns about his feelings for her, but this only disgusts Sandra into ending their engagement and falling for Edward. Edward later reveals that Don died from a heart attack on the toilet bowl at an early age (as Don saw in the Witch’s eye). During his recovery, Edward is conscripted by the army and sent to the Korean War. He parachutes into the middle of a show entertaining North Korean troops, steals important documents, and convinces Siamese twin dancers Ping and Jing to help him get back to the United States, where he will make them stars. He is unable to contact anyone on his journey home, and the military declares him dead. This limits Edward’s job options when he does return home, so he becomes a travelling salesman. Meeting the poet Norther Winslow from Spectre again, he unwittingly helps him rob a bank, which is already bankrupt. Edward suggests Winslow work at Wall Street, and Winslow thanks Edward for his advice by sending him $10,000, which he uses to buy a dream house.
Still unimpressed by his father’s stories, Will demands to know the truth, but Edward explains that is who he is: a storyteller. Will finds Spectre, and meets an older Jenny, who explains that Edward rescued the town from bankruptcy by buying it at an auction and rebuilding it with financial help from many of his previous acquaintances. Will suggests his father had been having an affair with Jenny, to which she replies that while she had indeed fallen in love with him, Edward could never love any woman other than Sandra. When Will returns home, he is informed his father had a stroke and is at the hospital. He goes to visit him there and finds him only partly conscious, and unable to speak at length. Since Edward can no longer tell stories, he asks Will to tell him the story of how it all ends: escaping from the hospital, they go to the river where everyone in Edward’s life appears to bid him goodbye. Will carries his father into the river where he becomes what he always had been: a very big fish. Edward then dies, knowing his son finally understands his love of storytelling. At the funeral, Will sees many of his father’s more unusual friends, including Amos, Karl, Ping and Jing, and Norther Winslow. Will realizes that his father’s stories, while embellished, were ultimately true. When his own son is born, Will passes on his father’s stories, remarking that his father became his stories, allowing him to live forever.
Albert Finney…as Edward Bloom
Ewan McGregor…as young Edward Bloom
Jessica Lange…as Sandra K. Bloom
Alison Lohman…as young Sandra Templeton
Billy Crudup…as William Bloom
Marion Cotillard…as Joséphine Bloom
Helena Bonham Carter…as Jennifer Hill / The Witch
Robert Guillaume…as Dr. Bennett
Matthew McGrory…as Karl
Danny DeVito…as Amos Calloway