I was pissed at my
parents for something. Probably my upbringing, which was oppressively
unremarkable. You know how when you fuck up in life your first
reaction is to follow the chain of events until you can find somebody
else to blame? For example, on New Year's Eve, I fell into the
creek while trying to feed the ducks hors d'oeuvres. No, don't
worry, I didn't freeze; I was really tanked at the time, plus
I had wet my pants, so it felt nice to rinse them out.
Was it my fault? Nobody
else was there, true, at least not physically. Let's follow the
chain of events, though. My Dad is the one who specifically told
me not to come to the New Year's Party. He said I upset Mom's
friends last year. Look, if "friends" don't want to see bladder
scars or the chronic, slow seeping, they should say so, only louder.
Otherwise, they aren't really friends, are they? The Mrs. went
I got one other New
Year's Party invite, that of this limey Hilary I temped with at
Sears for the Christmas rush. At her party, she and James (this
guy who isn't even Limey but pretends to be) were going to drink
Rum toddies and watch a "Keeping up Appearances" marathon--I'm
assuming--until one or the other killed themself. That's another
thing that pisses me off. Sears hires you for the Christmas rush
and they say they might keep on the best temp hires. If you try
really hard and wish an extra special wish, maybe you can keep
stocking men's underwear forever. Well, they canned my ass on
December 26th, right after the last fat kid returned the last
fucking pair of Huskies. Mary in Human Resources said they would
have kept me on except that my performance was poor, my attendance
was poor and my attitude was poor. My hygiene rating was satisfactory.
I guess Sears would rather have really sweaty, farty people ringing
up the customers than a guy who is, maybe, an hour or two late,
but smells like coconuts. That's the sort of crap that's killing
the department stores; I never smell B.O. at the Wal-Mart.
Back to my point, and
it's a really fucking good one. That is, I'm the one who fell
in the creek, but my dad is the ones who shoved me. Not literally,
he hasn't done that for years. But if he had invited me to the
party I wouldn't have been home alone with six bottles of AndrÈ
Cold Duck and a box of Gino's pizza rolls, a combination as deadly
as gunpowder and a lead pipe. It was also my father who instilled
in me a deep sense of nurturing for animals that deepens with
alcohol intake. I can't remember exactly after how many bottles
of hooch I started worrying about the birds, but think about it:
The shit's called Cold Duck. Who's not going to start fretting
over the little guys? Who's going to tell them when the new year
starts, or how to make waterproof pants? (See, the thing is
making them to fit over those big webbed feet and still fit snugly.
I've thought about this a lot.) Who's going to be there for
the ducks on the last day of 2003? I am, with a plate of piping
Big Fish, Director
Tim Burton's latest failure in a quickly deteriorating career,
is a father-son story: the kind where the boring, whiny kid blames
his pop for ruining his boring life. Waa waa waa. Billy Crudup
is a grown man, a journalist married and living in France, essentially
estranged from his father (Albert Finney--bloated in body, spirit
and performance). You see, the father is a teller of tall tales;
stories of hokey, fluffy Southern-style bullshit, and the son
feels like he never got to know the real man behind them.
Of course, Finney's
character is dying, which gives him a grand opportunity to lie
in bed and give one of those powerful deathbed performances full
of phlegmy coughs and profundity. Crudup agrees to visit his father
one last time with his pregnant wife. From then on, what we get
in the present time is some variation of that soggy Tuesdays
with Morrie horseshit, where one guy lies prone and spews
wisdom like methane at a feed lot, and the other guy sits around,
listens and then thinks, "Gosh, I'm a better person now." The
stories Finney spews are fantastical and mesmerizing, or so the
bombastic, clichÈd soundtrack would have us believe. Each spins
the story into the past, where Finney is played by Ewan MacGregor.
This premise serves
Tim Burton well. There is very little plot and lots of visual
oddities like circus freaks, a giant, midgets, lost utopias, werewolves
and haunted woods. It's all sort of interesting, but not as interesting
as they should be considering they're all the movie's got going
for it. In the end, the stories don't enrich or enlighten the
dreary, predictable father-son story. They are just weird stuff
that Burton and screenwriter John August thought up.
The basic story of
Crudup and Finney reconciling is too fucking dull to cry over,
which is what Burton wants. Boo hoo, a pouty little bitch doesn't
like his father. Join the fucking club. Big Fish doesn't
ever give us a reason to care that one more dullard is sucking
oxygen or that, no surprise, he realizes he was wrong as Finney
takes his final breaths in a hospital. And of course, we learn
that Finney's tales aren't so tall. He really did do a lot of
these crazy things! In other words, Big Fish doesn't even
ask the son to accept his father for who he is, which might be
a profound lesson. Instead, it tells him it's okay to hate his
father as a liar, but as a truth-teller he must be loved. What
a bunch of backpedaling Hollywood horseshit.
Every time the movie
spins into Finney's fantastical past, I held my breath thinking
the movie was going to surprise us. It does once, with a war sequence
and Siamese Twins. The rest of the time, the dreamy sequences
feel too slight, too detached from the theme, and not fantastical
enough. Part of the problem is that the characters are more awestruck
by Burton's vision than I was.
is a dour, judgmental asshole. He's also as boring as a dentist's
waiting room without even the anticipation of getting a boner
when the dental assistant puts her latexed hands down your throat
and scolds your brushing habits. Come on, guys, we all have those
fantasies. Crudup's dullard is not worth hanging a movie's emotional
journey on, because he has nowhere to go but to get his comeuppance.
This is painfully obvious from the first time this whiny bitch
opens his mouth.
southern man is pure cornball. He's acting and drawling like he's
going for at least two Oscars. Every time he opens his mouth,
he looks pleased with how damn cutesy he's being before the words
start tumbling out like honey-soaked wool socks. I would never
give any asshole who talks this much the pleasure of letting him
think I like his story as much as he loves telling it.
In the flashbacks,
miscast Ewan MacGregor plays a younger Finney as a southern-accent-challenged
blabbermouth who struts through every scene pretty certain that
the digital effects will add the magic later. At one point he's
playing the world's only 18-year old who could qualify for a 10%
senior discount at Wendy's. He, like the rest of the cast, seem
to think a southern accent is all that's needed to be heart-warming.
Here's my final beef.
This movie feels as fucking synthetic as a leisure suit. It's
all manufactured sweetness. None of it, present story or fantasy
past, rings true or sincere so much as it feels like what a bunch
of coldhearted Hollywood grassfuckers think we'll eat up. It feels
like nobody who made Big Fish believed the crap they were
putting up there, but they kept thinking that if they added more
sugar, more treacly music and heavier Southern accents it would
It's garbage, really:
an old, stinking carp wrapped in a bow. Two Fingers for
to tell Filthy Something?