Big Fish

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Big Fish Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Delightful, sad father-son story for teens and up.
  • PG-13
  • 2003
  • 125 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 33 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Strong African-American and female characters.


Fantasy peril, death of a character.


Brief nudity.


Mild language.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has brief nudity, mild language, and fantasy peril. Sensitive kids may be upset by the death of a parent.

Wondering if Big Fish is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byIsaac_Burris December 6, 2019

Outdated, but strong message

In the film Big Fish, a father and son have a falling out after the father (Edward) continuously tells fantasy stories of his life. He then told a story about h... Continue reading
Parent Written byJustin V. April 2, 2017
Teen, 13 years old Written byhellerbusch May 19, 2020

Pretty wierd

This movie is pretty strange. There are a lot of interesting characters and the story follows a man and his son. The special effects and make up are pretty good... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byPixnos May 11, 2020

Very Touching!!

I just finished the movie, and I really liked the story it was telling. It is a very sweet but sad telling of a father-son story. It shows kids to be grateful f... Continue reading

What's the story?

Will (Billy Crudup) believes that his father Edward (Albert Finney) has used his embellished tales to hide his true self. After he steals the show at Will's wedding with a story about trying to capture a legendary big fish, Will cuts off communications with his dad, maintaining contact only through his mother (Jessica Lange). Will and his wife move far away, and Will becomes a fact-based journalist. When he learns that his father is dying, he comes home to try one more time to know what is true, to feel that he really knows his father. Once again, Edward tells a story from his past. We see young Edward (Ewan McGregor) leaving home in search of adventure. He finds a giant, a witch, a werewolf, a town where no one wears shoes, a highly unusual singing sister act, and the love of his life, Sandra (Alison Lohman), who is engaged to someone else.

Is it any good?

Big Fish is the enchanting story of a father and son, but it's really the story of stories themselves. It's about all kinds of stories, from the first stories whispered by a father to a sleepy child to the stories a son tells his father to comfort him as he nears death. Facts are fine, but some truths can only be told by fiction, and this movie tells a captivating tale that is a delight for the eye, the heart, and the spirit.

Director Tim Burton, like Edward, believes that it's the fantastic that deserves our attention more than the mundane. The ravishing images are marvels, but it's the heart of the stories that captivate, especially when it all comes together at the end in a moving conclusion filled with connection, understanding, and forgiveness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of their favorite stories -- factual and fictional. Who tells the best tall tales in the family?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate