Taglines: Have you ever had really a big secret?
A young boy (David Moscow) makes a wish at a carnival machine to be big. He wakes up the following morning to find that it has been granted and his body has grown older overnight. But he is still the same 13-year-old boy inside. Now he must learn how to cope with the unfamiliar world of grown-ups including getting a job and having his first romantic encounter with a woman. What will he find out about this strange world?
Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin, a young boy who makes a wish “to be big” and is then aged to adulthood overnight. The film also stars Elizabeth Perkins, David Moscow as small Josh, John Heard, and Robert Loggia and was written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg.
Film Review for Big
What did you want to be when you grew up? There was always some clever little person who was going to be an endocrinologist but most of us just wanted to be grown up. It is this idea that inspires Big and sets it apart from the current series of role reversal films being churned out by the Hollywood dream factory, with sons magically becoming their fathers.
Twelve-year-old Josh Baskin does not become anybody except himself – 20 years on. Eager to impress the school beauty, Josh asks a carnival wishing machine if he can be “big”. Next morning he wakes up as Tom Hanks. Some boys might have been ungrateful about this, feeling that “big” would have been better defined by Sylvester Stallone, but Josh is a nice lad and Hanks suits his personality perfectly.
Of course there are minor problems – he can no longer get into his jeans and his Mom doesn’t recognise him, thinking he is the abductor of the little treasure she tucked into his bunk the night before. Only his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) realises that inside the lanky adult is a frightened child.
Josh runs away from home, survives living in a seedy New York hotel (unlikely), gets a job as a computer operator in a toy company (improbable) and attracts the romantic attentions of Susan, the company siren (unbelievable). Having played around with/everyone else in the firm she is attracted by his ideas on the squeezy doll line – “so incisive”.
This is where the film, nicely directed by Penny Marshall, succeeds; whereas the other thrusting toy executives have come a long way since their idea of fun was Action Man, Josh is still of an age to appreciate toys. So he gets promoted. One of the nicest touches in “Big” is Billy’s astonishment that “toy development”, ie playing with lots of new products, is a job for a grown man.
Tom Hanks is marvellously child-like as Josh, all restless energy, innocence and real pleasure in the liberation that being grown-up allows him. But, as Susan (Elizabeth Perkins) introduces him to adult games and responsibility is heaped upon him, he also portrays the bore that a grown-up can become, when self-involvement and meetings crowd out the time once spent on fun with buddies
Although gently amusing, with some delightful set-pieces (Hanks let loose in FAO Schwartz, the Hamleys of New York), writers Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg have not come up with many startlingly clever lines. The ending is pure sentiment but then, just as when we were very young we wanted to be grown-up, so as grown-ups we would like to return to childhood with, of course, the knowledge we have since acquired. Or would we?
Directed by: Penny Marshall
Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Jared Rushton, David Moscow, Mercedes Ruehl, Josh Clark, Kimberlee M. Davis
Screenplay by: Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg
Production Design by: Santo Loquasto
Cinematography by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Film Editing by: Barry Malkin
Costume Design by: Judianna Makovsky
Set Decoration by: Susan Bode, George DeTitta Jr.
Art Direction by: Speed Hopkins, Tom Warren
Music by: Howard Shore
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 3, 1988