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Big (DVD) Review
The film that propelled Tom Hanks to superstar status, Big is one of the funniest and most family-friendly films ever to hit the big screen. Harboring its own unique charm, the movie wraps a compelling storyline around a cast of likeable characters to create a film audiences will never forget. And, to top it off, Director Penny Marshall became the first woman to direct a film grossing over one-hundred million dollars when Big was first released in 1988 (that’s an actual Trivial Pursuit question I ran across that might come in handy someday).
When a young suburban boy named Josh (David Moscow) attends a local carnival with his family, his young life is turned upside down when the girl he has a crush on is allowed on a rollercoaster while he learns that he is still too young. Distraught, the boy makes a wish on an antique arcade machine. He wishes to be big, and the machine spits out its answer on a small piece of cardboard, “Wish granted.” Josh thinks nothing of the reply until he wakes up the next morning as an adult version of himself (Tom Hanks).
Run out of the house by his own mother, Josh turns to his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) for help. But after convincing his friend, who’s only ten-years-old himself, Billy can’t provide much help except a small bit of cash and advice on getting a job. When Josh rents an apartment in New York City, Billy comes to visit him periodically. While playing guns in the toy store FAO Schwartz, the two run into MacMillan (Robert Loggia) founder of a toy manufacturer. MacMillan hits it off with Josh (the two step dance a Chopin tune on a giant foot-operated piano in an extremely memorable and famous scene), and the toy titan immediately hires Josh to work for his company in the area of toy-related research.
Climbing the corporate totem pole at MacMillan due to his vast insight into the toy preferences of kids, Josh befriends Susan (Elizabeth Perkins), a top-level executive hoping to learn what makes Josh such a master of the boardroom. But Susan’s pursuit of Josh is not looked upon favorably by her colleague Paul (John Heard) who’s spent his entire career kissing up to MacMillan only to have the inexperienced Josh appear out of nowhere and become the boss’s favorite. This conflict, coupled with the breakdown of Josh and Billy’s relationship, causes the adult kid to wish he could be his young self once again.
One of the best scenes in the film is when Susan reveals to Josh that she can’t believe she’s considering sleeping over at his place. Josh replies by saying he does it all the time and gives her the option of the top or the bottom bunk! Hanks really comes off as a kid trapped in an adult’s body, and that’s why Big works so well. So well, in fact, that it became an instant comedy classic.
Prior to Sleepless In Seattle, Forrest Gump, and Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks took Hollywood by storm with his charming performance in this larger than life movie. Big is a feel-good comedy without any foul language, gratuitous violence, or endless explosions. It simply retells the timeless tale of a young boy who wishes to be grown and doing grown up things, only in this instance, the kid gets his wish. As one of the biggest blockbusters of the 1980s, Big is a definite must-see film. I wouldn’t hesitate to see it.
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