Big Fish

  • Review Date: May 3, 2004
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 125 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Delightful, sad father-son story for teens and up.
  • Review Date: May 3, 2004
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 125 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive role models

Strong African-American and female characters.


Fantasy peril, death of a character.


Brief nudity.


Mild language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking


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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk about...

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

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 10, 2003
DVD release date:April 27, 2004
Cast:Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange
Director:Tim Burton
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:125 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:a fight scene, some images of nudity and a suggestive reference

This review of Big Fish was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old March 24, 2010
This movie is INCREDIBLE! Tim Burton is at his best, it is just soo good! It's imaginative, dark, beautiful and touching all at the same time, a tale of love, death, fantasy, and everything else! It's great, but there is some brief backside nudity on a female, some mild swearing (nothing to worry about) and some violence which could be scary to littlies. An imaginative yet mature fantasy film with a great cast including Ewan McGregor and Marion Cotillard, I LOVE THIS MOVIE, and many other people with a similar interest in films should too!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 17 years old Written byElmoRock3113 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


Tim Burton is a genius. His imagination is never-ending. I enjoyed this movie so much. There is some sexual references and brief nudity but nothing too explicit. Some language but it didn't make the movie less enjoyable. I recommend this movie to anyone.
Kid, 11 years old November 14, 2009


One of m favorite movies... Great Movie...
What other families should know
Great messages


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