It's something of a cross between Pulp Fiction or 21 Grams (for the disjointed storyline) and It's a Wonderful Life. It's lush. It's lyrical. It's fabulous (in the literal sense of the word). It's a gentle movie about a big life.
What impressed me the most was how well they matched the "young" actors to the "old" ones. Ewan MacGregor could grow to look like Albert Finney, and Jessica Lange and Alison Lohman look related. It's a nice thing when that sort of tricky casting actually works.
But the best part of this film is that it's like reading a really good collection of short stories. Some are more interesting than others, but they all hold your attention, and while different, they all have a sort of relation to each other. My favourite story was of Ed Bloom in the War (presumably Korea) where he steals secret plans and enlists the help of Siamese twin sisters and singers Ping and Jing to return to the States (via Cuba and a dirty canoe), armed only with his "English-Asian" dictionary.
Of course, it is based on a book, and I think it's one I need to read it...but it's also the perfect vehicle for Tim Burton to work his magic upon...and it makes you wonder how much of life is facts...and how much is embellishment.