It's Big and it's Clever
I wish I were big - Josh Baskin
I could easily sum up how I feel about "Big" in just a few short words, "Fun for all the family" as it truly is a very enjoyable movie for all age groups. With a great mix of humour for all age groups as well as a reasonable plot line, which engages the minds of both young and old alike, I really find "Big" as being one of the better movies which explore the idea of either becoming young/ older or body swapping.
Fed up of being small for his age, Josh Baskin (David Moscow - Just Married) makes a wish on an amusement machine called Zoltar Speaks, wishing that he could be big. Only the next morning his wish has come true but instead of just getting bigger Josh (Tom Hanks - Every Time We Say Goodbye) is now trapped in the body of a thirty something. With the aid of his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton - Overboard), he heads off too the city in search of the machine, and whilst there lands a job at a toy company. But as he starts to enjoy adult life and all the new experiences & freedom it brings him, he starts to doubt whether he wants to return to being a child.
The plot to "Big" uses one of the movie industries favourite ideas and that being the body swap scenario, in the case of "Big" that it is quite simply a boy waking up in the body of a man, not actually swapping bodies with someone else, which is more often the case in these types of movies. But even though the idea behind the story is pretty unoriginal, it's the way the story works to bring in enjoyable scenarios without feeling like it is purely a vehicle for a selection of scene ideas, makes "Big" so enjoyable.
The story is truly a journey of discovery, which the viewer is easily taken upon, as we experience adult life through the mindset of a young boy, that being one who happens to be in an adult body. From the excitement of blowing his first pay cheque on fun toys and food, through to the innocence of a date where he just thinks they are being friends, everything brings so many smiles to your face and it never stops from the start to the finish. But "Big" is not just about having fun and the element which sees Josh warming to being an adult is just as good. It helps build up nicely to leave the conundrum as to whether Josh will stay as an adult or whether he will return to being a child again.
One of the best parts about "Big" is that no matter what age you are there is something in it for everyone and quite often it is the same thing which will appeal to whoever is watching it. For me watching someone experience adult life with the innocence of a young mind makes me wish that I could get away with some of the stuff Josh does. But then I remember watching this as a teenager wishing I could have the freedom and fun that Josh experiences whilst being an adult. That is definitely one of the key reasons why I still find "Big" so enjoyable, it fuels your imagination no matter what age you are and in doing so makes you forget that the storyline is purely fantasy. Plus of course who can forget the wonderful over sized piano scene as Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia knock out "Chopsticks" jumping from key to key.
Another reason why I find "Big" so enjoyable is the wonderful performance of Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin, the boy in an adults body. Although Hanks has made a name for himself as a great serious actor, watching him just having fun in a character which allows him to use his imagination and let rip really shows how talented he truly is. What is also special about his performance is that you forget you are watching Hanks perform, an admirable feat in a movie where he has to act like a child.
To be honest "Big" is all about Hanks and his performance, but he is also helped by some marvellous supporting performance from the likes of Elizabeth Perkins, John Heard, Jared Rushton as well as one of my favourite actors Robert Loggia who is brilliant, but under used, as the owner of the Toy Company which employs Josh.
For a movie which hit the big screen over 20 years ago, "Big" has aged remarkably well and with the exception of some typical moments of laughter at the fashion it could quite have easily been made in the last 5 years. In fact I actually feel that it has got better with age, or maybe it just shows how good movies were from the 80s, especially in this area.
What this all boils down to is that maybe I am a bit blinkered as I seem to favour 80s movies, but even today "Big" has a lot of charm about it, maybe more than a lot of movies made for the family these days. Yes, the story line is pretty unoriginal but the whole things works together to make a very enjoyable viewing experience for young and old without the need for any double entendres. The key for me to why I still like "Big" is that it is fun and allows me to dream about having the sort of freedom displayed in the movie.
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