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Reliant more on powerful familial emotions than wacky splendor, "Big Fish" treads as close to our real world as Tim Burton ever could - a melancholy dissection of paternal distance and never truly knowing how many lives those we love can truly affect.
The film doesn't so much reject history as selectively rewrite it to its own reactionary, even offensive ends. This might perhaps be just about tolerable were the film funny, illuminating, insightful or moving. It is not.
Burton shows the rivalry between father and son but not the rancor, which seems to fit with the film's calm lyricism. But the father-son conflict is meant as the dramatic crux, and a forceful actor would have given it some much-needed bite.