Posted on June 3, 2018
Big is a fantasy/drama film directed by Penny Marshall. The film was written by Gary Ross (directed The Hunger Games) and Anne Spielberg (Steven Spielberg’s sister).
It follows Josh Baskin, a teenager that is aged up by a magic wish.
Just kidding. He looks like this.
The Story (SPOILERS)
Josh Baskin is a teenager that lives with his parents and infant sister in New Jersey. He enjoys playing games on his computer, has a friend named Billy, and is a good big brother.
While visiting a carnival with his family, Josh aims to impress Cynthia Benson, an older girl. He attempts to ride a frightening ride and is told that he is too short to ride the Ring of Fire.
Embarrassed, Josh leaves the cue and finds an antique fortune teller machine called Zoltar Speaks. He wishes to be “big” and it dispenses a card stating “Your wish is granted”.
Confused, Josh investigates and sees that the machine was unplugged the entire time.
The next morning, Josh discovers that he has been transformed into Tom Hanks. He tries to explain what happened to his mother, who flips out, thinking he is a stranger who kidnapped her son.
Josh then finds Billy and convinces him that he is his best friend with a ridiculous song.
With Billy’s help, Josh rents a cheap room in New York City and gets a job at the MacMillan Toy Company. Josh runs into the company’s owner, Mr. MacMillan, at FAO Schwarz.
He impresses him with his childlike demeanor and they play a duet on a foot-operated keyboard. The pivotal piano scene of them performing “Heart and Soul” and “Chopsticks” made the film famous.
Josh receives a promotion and moves into a large apartment. Billy and him fill the apartment with toys, a pinball machine, a trampoline, a bunk-bed, and other various items.
His attitude attracts the attention of Susan Lawrence, a fellow toy executive.
A romance begins to develop between the two characters. This leads to an awkward implied sex scene (that would immediately receive backlash if the genders were reversed).
Josh begins to act more like an adult and stops spending time with Billy due to his work schedule.
Josh’s job becomes more and more demanding and he wants his old life back. When he tries to explain what happened to Susan, she scoffs it off as commitment issues.
Josh learns from Billy that the Zoltar machine is now at Sea Point Park and he leaves his job at the toy company. Susan follows him, encountering Billy, who tells her where Josh went.
At the park, Josh finds the machine and reverses the wish. Susan shows up and realizes he was telling the truth.
She is originally upset that their relationship is over, but accepts what happened and takes him home. Josh says goodbye to Susan and becomes a child again.
He then waves goodbye to Susan as the film ends.
Big is an innocent fish out of water story. As most 30-year-old films go, this one certainly hits unexpected emotional ranges.
This was the first Oscar nomination for Tom Hanks, and the reasoning is solid. His portrayal of Josh Baskin is believable, heartfelt, and often hilarious.
While some aspects of the film haven’t aged that well, every performance was portrayed well. Josh’s mother is especially heartbreaking, mainly because her son kidnapped himself for almost two months.
Mercedes Ruehl knocked it out of the park in this film and she deserves every bit of praise for her part.
Mrs. Baskin : You have my boy?
Josh [Over the phone] : Yeah. And you’re gonna get him back. Just the way he was.
Mrs. Baskin : Look, I swear if you do anything to him, if you touch one hair on his head, I will spend the rest of my life making sure you suffer.
Josh : Wow, thanks.