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 18 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 40 reviews

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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.

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Outdated, but strong message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 byKody1 May 7, 2021

Big Fish Review

It is a drama. I thought that it was funny, and it had wild adventures. It had a meaningful message. I would suggest that families go to this movie.
Teen, 17 years old Written byThe Mighty Neb April 24, 2021

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

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