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ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

(2003), PG-13

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
January 9, 2004
67 out of 100

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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, if you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2003), PG-13 -- ... a tall tale of telling tall tales.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Columbia Pictures Corporation, The Zanuck Company, Jinks/Cohen Company
Distribution (US): Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Director(s): Tim Burton
Producer(s): Bruce Cohen, Katterli Frauenfelder, Dan Jinks, Arne Schmidt, Richard D. Zanuck
Written by: Daniel Wallace
Screenplay: John August
Cinematography/Camera: Philippe Rousselot
Music: Danny Elfman
Film Editing: Chris Lebenzon, Joel Negron
Casting: Denise Chamian
Production Design: Dennis Gassner
Art Direction: Roy Barnes, Robert Fechtman, Jack Johnson, Richard L. Johnson
Viewed at: Hollywood Theaters South Freeway, 301 W. Rendon - Crowley Road, Burleson, Texas 76028 817-295-8339

Guess what? There is another father-son (or parent-child) conflict at the heart of this movie, too.

Edward Bloom (younger, Ewan McGregor: elder, Albert Finney) told many stories over his long life about his life and about life. Ed is the sort of character who could be a dozen different high profile personalities or famous notables while brushing his teeth. Often his story-telling takes on the same tendency to fantasize. Not completely, to be sure, but just enough to capture the attention and interest of those who heard him. And if Ed saw he was losing his audience, he would turn up the adventure just a little to keep them interested. But how much of his story-telling was true and how much was, er, added of colored for the benefit of his listeners, no one but Ed knew. Not even his son, William (Billy Crudup) knew. Maybe Ed himself did not always know. Indeed, because of all the "big fish" stories, even Ed's own son did not know him.

Over his years with his father, Will became frustrated with him. Always Ed would seem to add so much to his tales that nothing he said could be believed. Nothing came out straight. Always was there some adventure to everything Ed had to say. Always Ed would find some "Have I told you about..." event in his life to bring up to accompany any topic of discussion. Will became so frustrated that one day Will just stopped talking to his father. For three years this barrier continued ... to his father's dying bed.

It was at his father's bedside while dying that Will found it very easy to manufacture a few things to color his final talk with his father. Like father - like son.

Maybe this film may have a lot to say and/or imply to you. It certainly is rich in plot, story and statement. And there are several high wattage performers, some veteran, some new or relatively new which bring power and force to a tall tale of telling tall tales. But we do not have the money to take the time to discuss the story in much detail. There are so many subplots and redirections in this intricate weaving of thespian artistry it must have been a nightmare to build such a dreamlike tapestry of numerous story fibers into the flowing work of art it is and still ensure connectivity and keeping track of all the "big fish" story lies to feed the next "big fish."

Indeed, Big Fish has a lot to say. And some of it is not good. Some of it is so subliminal and thinly stated or portrayed (intentionally) that one could almost draw a conclusion that Ed visited Heaven or some other holy ground where no one was allowed to wear shoes as if the place, Spectre, were the holy ground of the mountain of God [Ex. 3:5]. Or maybe it was Hell. The fabric of the story at that point was so artfully gossamer that your guess would be as good as mine. Thus is the price of a good fantasy. This movie is almost like that big cushy couch that sort of wraps itself around you when you sit. But there are some pins buried in the cushions of this couch. And they will make their point. (See Little Straight Pins.) If there is a place where truth meets fiction, Big Fish is it.

Now for that which most of you come to visit us: the matters of moral concern. Indeed there are such matters in this otherwise gentle tale of many tales. There is gunfire with injury, armed robbery, [Jon. 3:8] animal attack (by a werewolf), predicting the future by witchcraft [Gal. 5:19 - 23], a rather graphic beating and portrayal of assisted suicide to change into a fish. With only five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary and no uses of God's name in vain whatsoever [1Pet. 3:10], it became clear that the only likely reasons the MPAA gave this movie a PG-13 was the full and partial female nudity, repeatedly, and the full rear male nudity. [Mark 7:20 - 21] But the CAP analysis model (the Findings/Scoring section) is not subjective and gives no more weight to one sin over another. The CAP model gives minor weight due to severity, but not to one sin over another. Neither does God. Any sin, if unforgiven, can cast the sinner into the lake of fire, no matter how bad or seemingly slight the sin may seem to us. There is another "verse" to that. No sin can keep one out of Heaven IF forgiven. Once one has accepted Jesus as Lord and resurrected Savior and has asked forgiveness believing, all sins whether past, present or future are forgiven [Rom. 10:9] and we may be assured of our rightful inheritance to a place in the Kingdom of Heaven forever.

One more mimi-sermon, please. Forever. Has anyone really given any thought to how long is "forever?" Let me try to help. Imagine you have started your eternity. Now imagine it takes 100,000,000,000 centuries to count one grain of sand on the Sahara desert. When you have finished counting every single grain of sand, your time in eternity will just be getting started. "When we have been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we will have no less days to sing your praise than when we first begun." As a mortal dimension, time will have ended without ending. [2Pet. 3:8]

Please read the listing in the Findings/Scoring section for this 121-minute excursion into real make-believe before you decide whether it is fit.

SPECIAL NOTE: We will be reducing the volume of coverage in the Summary/Commentary section of our reports and the number of reports generated in an effort to reduce costs until full funding can be achieved. The Findings/Scoring section of each report, the heart of the analysis model, will NOT be reduced in any way.

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If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Ex. 3:5 And he [God] said [to Moses], Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
  • Jon. 3:8 But let man and beast be covered [hidden, concealed] with sackcloth [worn in mourning or humiliation], and cry [for help] mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
  • Gal. 5:19 - 23 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God [if unforgiven]. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [I know this is like dumping the whole stakebed truck load of hay on you when you asked for only a few bales, but sometimes a few bales are not enough. Sometimes it is good to add a little grain.]
  • 1Pet. 3:10 For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil ...
  • Mark 7:20 - 21 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, ...
  • Rom. 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [And you do NOT have to be "clean" first.]
  • 2Pet. 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Rom. 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Big Fish (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • human head in lion's mouth
  • slapstick violence, repeatedly
  • animal attack
  • gunfire injury
  • beating
  • military assault
  • theft
  • firearm threat, repeatedly
  • armed robbery
  • reckless driving, repeatedly
  • close-up of death
  • successful life of crime

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • son's hate talk to father
  • offer to lie
  • lies, repeatedly throughout
  • animal defecation
  • corrupting of a child

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • child birth exaggeration
  • nude woman seen from the rear standing in a river up to her lower buttocks, repeatedly
  • full rear female nudity, repeatedly
  • semi-opaque full frontal female nudity
  • tale of sexual immorality
  • man in tub
  • suggestion of intercourse
  • full rear male nudity
  • brief partial rear male nudity
  • man and woman in bed in underwear
  • woman on man in tub dressed (Mr. and Mrs. Bloom were "married" but Finney and Lange were not.)

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drinking
  • smoking, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O)
  • witch story
  • predicting future by witchcraft
  • unholy object manipulation
  • werewolf

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • assisted suicide by drowning

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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