Big (1988)


Very eighties but sweet and an often funny look at the perks and pitfalls of adult life. Led by a charming Tom Hanks and a solid directors grip from Penny Marshall, it is clear to see why this film still sticks around as a favourite even if it loses pace in moments.

Josh Baskin (David Moscow) is sick of having to answer to parents, fail getting the attractive girl and be too short for fairground rides so when he sees a neglected fortune telling machine he makes a wish to be big and the next day wakes up as Tom Hanks. Whilst trying to trace the machine to get back to kid-size adult Baskin attempts to fit in by getting a job in New York and his childish inside pushes him ahead but is being a fully fledged adult all it’s cracked up to be?

The feel of this film is dated, not that it’s a hugely bad thing to point out. Most of the story is actually rather fun and poignant in its exploration of kid versus grown up worlds but I still cannot shake the contrived manner of the wish granting machine being somehow by itself and not seen by anyone but Josh. Also as adult Josh, when he kisses colleague Susan it goes so well, yet clearly that would have been a first smooch so seeing an awkward fumble would have been funny and realistic. Aside from that the film hits strides in nearly all places taking us along on this age-changing tale.

Seeing the wonders of toys and games caught in this big man’s new life is a great juxtaposition and makes you think why can’t adults be deemed to have things like this to let of steam, kids surely can’t have all the fun?! Also the film is great in making you realise how precious childhood is, all children wish to be adults to do their own stuff but make the most of your young lives because it’s over before you know it and this movie shows the pains and hard work expected of adults well to make Josh realise what a treasure being thirteen really is.

Fun moments come in the crossover between kid and adult Baskin, the way he thinks like a kid while others take what he says as adult, so the moment Susan wants to come over and he says he has to be on top…bunk bed for him but sex for her causes a fun moment of communication and age divide! The stand out visual has to be of Josh wrapping up Mr. MacMillan in child like wonder when playing a large foot controlled piano in a toy shop. The pair boss Chopsticks and Heart and Soul and it’s so enjoyable watching them both dance along on the keys.

Tom Hanks is a joy mixing the big eyed excitement of childishness with the enveloping trials of keeping to presentation deadlines and falling in love. It’s a dopey performance but not overplayed, keeping him charming and likable to watch him perform with fizzing energy and sweetness. Jared Rushton is a fun guy playing Josh’s friend Billy and he is great in his mate routine opposite Hanks trying to help Josh. Elizabeth Perkins is the typical 80’s love interest but does well going from expected hurdle to appreciative of Baskin’s persona. However odd it is to realise the woman is fond of what we know is a child in a man’s body, the relationship is still somehow undeniably cute.

Apart from chugging in places and sticking to a quite tried and tested formula, this movie is imaginative and fun. Tom Hanks is the showman of the Big top circus and the fantastical comedy of the situation is innocent and entertaining.



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