Big

Released:  1988

Cast:  Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Jared Rushton

Oscar Nominations:  Best Actor (Tom Hanks), Best Original Screenplay (Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg)

SUMMARY:  While at a carnival, 12-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow, Tom Hanks) is told that he is too short to get on one of the rides.  As he leaves, Josh notices a strange fortune telling machine, and puts a coin in it.  He wishes to be “big”, and receives a card from the machine telling him that his wish is granted.  However, Josh notices that the machine has been unplugged the entire time, leaving him puzzled at the experienced.  The next morning, Josh wakes up to find that he is 30 years old (unlike movies like 13 Going on 30, nobody else ages, though).  He tries to return to the carnival, but finds that it’s already left town.  When he goes back to his house, Josh’s mother doesn’t recognize him, and panics.  The only person Josh is able to convince of his identity is his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton), who he convinces by singing a secret song.  The boys try to locate the machine, but learn that the process will take several months.  In the meantime, Josh finds a place to stay, and gets an entry-level job at MacMillan Toy Company.  One day, while at FAO Schwarz, Josh meets Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia) himself.  The boss is impressed at Josh’s understanding of toys and children:  Josh really wins him over when the two play duets on a giant foot-operated keyboard.  Following this encounter, Josh is promoted within the company, so that now he gets to test toys.

The better job also means better money, and Josh is able to get a nice apartment, which he and Billy decorate – with toys, a Pepsi machine, pinball, and bunk beds.  Josh also starts spending time with coworker Susan Lawrence (Elizabeth Perkins), and a relationship gradually starts.  As Josh spends more and more time with Susan, he starts to act more and more like an adult.  Billy notices this and gets mad at Josh, feeling that Josh has forgotten that he’s not really an adult.  Things start to crumble for Josh when he is asked to develop a whole new line of toys.  Even though Susan is helping him, Josh feels a lot of pressure that he doesn’t think he is able to handle.  He tries to tell Susan his secret, but she thinks that he is just saying he’s afraid of commitment.  Fortunately for Josh, Billy has located the fortune teller machine.  During an important work meeting, Josh suddenly leaves, and goes to the park where the machine is currently.  Susan, who gets directions from Billy, follows him there.  She arrives just after Josh wishes to return to childhood, and suddenly realizes that Josh was telling the truth about his age.  Both are sad and disappointed that their relationship is over, but Susan doesn’t want to be a child again (as Josh suggests she use the machine to do).  Instead, she takes him to his parents’ house, and watches as he turns back into a kid as he walks away from the car.  The last scene shows Josh and Billy hanging out again.

MY TAKE:  As a kid, I thought what happened to Josh had to be the coolest thing ever, because like most kids, I wanted to be older.  Now that I am (older) I can appreciate the movie a little better, since (like most adults) I have realized that being an adult is not always what it’s cracked up to be.  It starts off really cool:  Josh has a job where he plays with toys all day, and a big apartment filled with all kinds of cool stuff.  Of course, eventually reality sets in, and Josh has to deal with some of the real problems of the adult world (though he still has a cushy job and very few bills, so not all of the real world problems).  Even though he loves his job, he gets stressed out by the expectations placed on him, and realizes that being a kid isn’t so horrible after all, even if you can’t get on some carnival rides yet.  Luckily for him, Billy happens to find the machine at that exact moment.  Even more luckily, the thing works again, and turns Josh back into a kid.  I always felt kind of bad for Elizabeth Perkins, since she got the short (hahaha) end of the stick.  Along with the disappointment and sadness, I would think she might also be a little creeped out that she totally fell for a 12-year-old.  We don’t see how things turn out for her, but for Josh, things go back to normal, and he very happily becomes a kid again.

Fun fact:  This movie, directed by Penny Marshall, was the first female-directed feature film to gross over $100 million.

RATING:  Cute.

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