Directed by Penny Marshall
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.
I was 13 years old when I first saw this film, and I loved it. I was with this 13 year old kid all the way as he turned into a 32 year old and I imagined myself in his situation --- forced to be a grown up and going through the up and downs of that.
Josh is your typical suburban kid going about his existence. He's a lucky kid as he has a family who loves him and a best friend he is able to share his anxieties with. He only major problem is that he's short, well shorter than the girls in his age group who just happen to begin the maturity process quicker. After not being able to go on a rollar coaster ride with his school crush because he's too short for the ride qualifications, Josh makes a wish to a carnival wish machine that he was taller. And low and behold the next day he's taller and turns into Tom Hanks, future blockbuster movie star and multiple Oscar winner (in fact, Hanks performance in Big earned him his first Oscar nomination).
This is your typical high concept Hollywood movie. Something out of this world happens to our main character and we watch as he/her deals with it. What makes films like these great, it's it main thematic as there is a lesson to be learned. The entertainment factor is already there as the fantasy element inside of our common world pushes us forward to watch every single frame. It also helps to cast your film with the right performers too as we watch them react to the world knowing the real situation they are in. But it's all about the theme that separates the boys from the men and Big has a fantastic theme.
So revisiting this film 20 years later and now looking at it from an adults point of view, I am so aware of this theme and I came away from this movie a much better person. I remember as a 13 year old thinking that I'll never convert to true brainwash adultism. But now as a man in his 30's I think I''ve lost a bit of my childhood inosence and Big makes me want to get it back.
Big is almost a perfect film. It will mostly be remembered because of Tom Hanks and his legacy in the history of cinema. This is part of his body of work that will be sold in DVD sets etc., with his other films. But it shouldn't be mixed in with other groups of films as it's a film that will never date because of its universal and timeless theme. We should always remember our childhood feelings and emotions because they are the truest sense of who we are. Josh wants to be taller because he can't get on a rollar coaster and have fun. In his eyes he's limited and wants to do something about it. But he realizes after almost being sucked into the adulthood brainwash system (it's hard to go back when you are sleeping with a beautiful/smart woman) that his childhood limitations are actually his strengths.
It's great to be a kid when you're a kid and when you're an adult too. It seems like the world takes itself too seriously and Big is a reminder of that. This is one of those films that you need to go back to every year and rewatch when you begin to get sucked into the madness of the world again. Perhaps life's problems can be taken care of if we don't overthink it and look at things from a childlike perspective.