Summer Movie Showdown: "Big" Review

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When a boy wishes to be big at a magic wish machine, he wakes up the next morning and finds himself in an adult body literally overnight.
3.5

Summer Movie Showdown: "Big" Review

-- Rating: PG
Length: 104 minutes
Release Date: June 3, 1988
Directed by: Penny Marshall
Genre: Comedy

"Big" is a heartwarming 1988 comedy starring Tom Hanks ("Forest Gump"), Elizabeth Perkins ("28 Days"), Robert Loggia ("Independence Day"), and John Heard ("The Pelican Brief"). The film relates a story about a young boy named Josh Baskin, who grew into adulthood overnight after wishing to become "big." Directed by actress and television producer Penny Marshall ("Get Shorty"), the film grossed more than $150 million at the box office. "Big" made Marshall the first female to ever direct a film worth more than $100 million.

During the 1980s, multiple age-changing movies hit the big screen including "18 Again," starring George Burns, and "Vice Versa," starring Judge Reinhold. None of these age-changing movies were nearly as successful as "Big," however. Young Josh Baskin, played by David Moscow ("Dead Air"), is a 12-year-old boy from New Jersey. While at a carnival one evening, Josh learns that he's too short to ride a roller coaster with his friends. He feels extremely disheartened because he wants to hang with the cool kids, and he wants to impress his school crush. While walking around the carnival alone, Josh spots a fortune teller machine. He inserts a coin into the machine and wishes to become big. Shortly after Josh makes his wish, the machine produces a card that reads, "Your wish has been granted."

When Josh (Hanks) wakes up the following day, he discovers that he has transformed overnight into a grown man in his thirties. Josh's mother reacts with hysteria and believes her son has been kidnapped. Josh decides to go back to the carnival, but the carnival and the fortune teller machine are gone. Desperate for help, he attempts to confide in his childhood friend, Billy, played by Jared Rushton ("Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"). First, Josh must convince him that he is, in fact, Josh. After singing a secret song that only the two of them know, Josh gains Billy's trust and help.

The boys discover that it will take a few months to find the fortune teller machine, so Josh will be stuck in his new grown-up body for a while. Since he can't go back home to his mother, Josh rents his own place in New York City and gets a job at the MacMillan Toy Company as a data entry clerk. While at FAO Schwarz toy store, Josh runs into his boss, Mr. MacMillan (Loggia), and instantly impresses MacMillan with his insight on toys. Josh's happy attitude and childlike charm also impress MacMillan. MacMillan and Josh end up playing together on an extra large foot-operated keyboard, creating one of the most memorable scenes in the entire film. MacMillan then offers Josh a job as a toy tester, a promotion that dramatically increases his salary.

With his newfound wealth, Josh rents a large apartment. With the help of Billy, they turn the apartment into a dream home filled with toys, game machines, soda machines, and many other luxuries that any 12-year-old boy would love. While at work, Josh begins to draw the attention of his coworker Susan (Perkins), and the two develop an incipient romance. As Josh's relationship with Susan grows, he becomes more comfortable in his adult life. Josh and Susan eventually move in together, and Josh's best friend Billy starts to feel neglected. Josh really wants to tell Susan that he's a child, but he can't find the courage to do so. Finally, he explains to Susan that he's actually a child, but she does not believe him. She accuses him of having a fear of commitment and gets extremely frustrated with him. Josh must also deal with more responsibilities at work. The stresses of his new life continue to build, making him feel overwhelmed.

Billy discovers that the fortune teller machine is at a local park, and he informs Josh. Josh leaves work and goes to the park, and Susan follows him. Josh locates the machine, inserts a coin, and wishes to become a child again. Josh's wish is granted, and Susan realizes that he had told the truth. He asks Susan if she wants to use the machine to become young again, but Susan declines and drives him home. Josh reunites with his family and resumes his life as a child.

Hanks received rave reviews for his role in this film, even earning an Academy Award nomination. Hank masterfully demonstrates his ability to connect with his inner child, which is especially evident in the scenes that include his childhood friend, Billy. The rapport between the two is phenomenal. He also has great chemistry with his adult love interest Susan, and Josh manages to bring out Susan's inner child as well. This fun movie is all about childhood, friendship, and love, and it appeals to individuals of all ages.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5