Double Feature Duel:
Storytelling vs. Big Fish
Bout #7: A boring old forgotten movie I took a chance on vs. a movie admittedly in my All Time Top 5 that I watch every Fathers Day. OK, let’s get this over with.
Title: This might be Storytelling’s greatest strength. It’s why I decided to waste a week of my Netflix subscription, especially since I’ve gotten into storytelling both on stage and in my memoir classes. But Big Fish is such a great metaphor in this story. And one of my nicknames. Point, Big Fish (0-1)
Funnier: There was an amusing scene with an obviously socially awkward Paul Giamatti on the phone leaving a girl a message in Storytelling that I wrote over and over for 10 years straight, but Big Fish had a triumph of mood, which made the entire story just fun. And there was Albert Finney. Point, Big Fish (0-2)
Better Turn: Storytelling is shot as two vignettes, “Fiction” and “Non-fiction,” the latter being about twice as long and half as interesting as the former. The turns taken separately were interesting enough, (especially the Selma Blair sex scene), but seeing Will Bloom find out that some of his dad’s stories may have actually been true is a real way to get the audience into the second act. Point, Big Fish (0-3)
Better Ending: Please. The son having to indulge his father by telling his own story, finally endearing him to his father is still a moment I cry at every year. And the epilogue with the funeral scene where he saw that all the stories his father told weren’t necessarily all lies made him finally understand his father. I can’t speak enough for the end of this movie. Oh, and Storytelling had an ending too. Point, Big Fish (0-4)
Better Message: You can afford to give a little to try to ease the inherent tension created by a generation gap – not to mention conflicting personalities – in families. There was a line in Storytelling where the teacher of the fiction writing class said “Once you start writing, it’s all fiction.” This may have touched me as a Creative Writing student. If it weren’t complete bullshit. Instead, it pissed me off. Point, Big Fish (0-5)
Better Acting: Ewan McGregor, Golden Globe nominee. Helena Bonham Carter, 2-time Oscar nominee. Albert Finney, 5-time Oscar nominee. Marion Cotillard, Oscar winner. Jessica Lange, 2-time Oscar winner. And sprinkle a little Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito on top for flavor. Oh, and garnish with Robert Guillaume and his two Emmys. Sorry Paul, you’re losing another acting point here. Point, Big Fish (0-6)
More Creative: There are not many movies that can beat Big Fish here for several reasons. The mere world created by the flashbacks with the Ewan McGregor character is enough to win most creative in about any fight. But add in the present day Billy Crudup trying to reconcile the truth with Albert Finney amidst these flashbacks is brilliant, or at least brilliantly done. Point, Big Fish (0-7)
Poster: I lied. The title isn’t Storytelling’s greatest strength. A group of college age students looking up at a book four times their size with the single word “Storytelling” on it was compelling enough for me to want to see it. BUT, Big Fish has trees growing out of the dynamically shaped words themselves as if they were trees. The poster is very Tim Burton-on-his-best-day beautiful and already puts you in the mood the story will soon create. Point, Big Fish (0-8)
Watch again: Yeah, it’s a clean sweep as I predicted. Point, Big Fish (0-9)
Overall: If there was a 1 vs 16 game in this bracket, this was it. And Duke just did to Coppin State what you would figure. Bug scale: Big Fish – 10.5, Storytelling – 2.5.