Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Jared Rushton, David Moscow, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Mercedes Ruehl, Jon Lovitz
Directed by: Penny Marshall
Written by: Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 1 hr 44 min
Hollywood over the years has loved this story concept – putting the child’s mind inside the body of an adult, or the other way around. When Big hit theaters in the summer of 1988, there had already been two other films released that explored this idea. Vice Versa just 3 months prior, and Like Father Like Son which had its theatrical run late in 1987. But even though the movie Big followed these two films, it clearly was the best. It has also in my opinion remained the best in this sub-genre despite some notable efforts such as 13 Going on 30 and the most recent adaptation of Freaky Friday.
This reason for this is three-fold. First, Penny Marshall’s patient direction and attention to character, secondly Gary Ross’s and Anne Spielberg’s thoughtful script, and last but certainly not least, Tom Hank’s pitch perfect performance.
All these elements combine perfectly to bring a great deal of credibility and charm to this fantastical idea, that satisfies that childish notion that at 13 years old, we all should work for toy companies! Yet also explores what it means to be a mature adult, while also recognizing the importance of play time and character building childhood experiences.
The idea behind this story is on the face of it, silly. But that’s what movies like this are all about right? Creating magical stories and making them seem almost credible. If you can make an emotional connection to Tom Hank’s character, Josh, and care about his journey then you’ll have a great time with this movie. This is a PG film, and does use some bad language here and there so it’s probably not suitable for really young kids. It should be okay for young teens and up, and a good film for the family to watch together.
This is nicely shot, but not a visual feast for the eyes. A regular DVD or streaming show on your TV will service this film well enough.
Tom Hanks’s performance is the best thing about this movie. He’s utterly convincing as a 13-year-old trapped inside the body of an adult. The delivery of the dialog, and the physical aspects of his performance are spot on so it’s not surprising he won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar.