Big: A comedy that’s young at heart
Before Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo came along, in 2004, with ’13 going on 30′, there was Tom Hanks and ‘Big’. Although, ‘Big’ does not feature a teenage girl slumber party or a magic pink dollhouse, it is (almost) always considered the best of the bunch. I’ll be the judge of that.
12 year old boy, Josh, wants to be taller. After a misunderstanding with a wish making machine, he ages 20 years and moves to New York with hopes of finding a way to return to his youth.
Josh is a 12 year old boy who lives in New Jersey, next door to his best friend, Billy. He plays baseball, video games and spends his evenings chanting ‘Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop’ on the way home from practise. What a wonderful childhood. One night at the fair, Josh is too small to ride the rollercoaster of his choosing and walks around in a misery. He finds a fortune telling machine and sees this as his chance. He wishes he were “big”. An extremely strange choice in wording on his part. Any other synonym for tall would’ve prevented a misinterpretation.
Josh wakes up, the next day, as Tom Hanks. He is now “big”. Sneakily, he goes into his parents’ room to get more fitting clothes than the age 12 pyjamas he was wearing. He escapes unnoticed and cycles down to where the fair was to try to turn back the clocks. Unfortunately, it has since moved cities. He goes back home and is nearly murdered by his mother while trying to explain that he still is 12 years old, he just is a “big” 12 year old now. The next safest place he think to go to is his school. The times certainly have changed. All it takes to convince Billy that it’s really him as one chorus of their rap. The boys leave home and travel to New York City with stolen money. Billy then abandons Josh in a questionable hotel to cry the night away. He returns the next day though, he can’t let a good opportunity to skip class go to waste now, can he?
Josh applies for a job at a toy factory, MacMillan Toys (This wouldn’t be Tom Hanks’ only movie with toys). All his years as an experienced gamer and newspaper delivery man have served him well, he gets the job. With no parents telling him what to do, the joys of his life becoming watching crime movies and eating oreos in bed. Billy comes over every now and then to wreck the hotel room with silly string. It’s the life he’s always wanted.
One day, he decides to venture into a toy shop and decides to shoot random children with laser guns. MacMillan, the boss of his company, turns out to also be walking around the shop and finds Josh on the ground after a particularly brutal laser battle. They take a walk, discussing the newest games, and stumble across a large floor piano. As well as experience in computer games, Josh has many piano lessons and plays it, faultlessly, with MacMillan for the entire shop. Maybe it’s his childish insight, maybe it’s his rendition of “Heart and Soul” on a giant floor piano, whatever it is MacMillan sees something in Josh that his other employees lack and makes him vice president in charge of product development. Basically, he gets to play with toys all day and he gets Bob’s old office to do it in. Meanwhile, young Josh’s face is appearing on milk cartons all over.
At a business meeting, Josh doesn’t get why people would want to play with skyscrapers and suggests they change it to bugs. This proposal gives him enough money to buy a New York apartment embellished with bunk beds, arcade games, a vending machine and a trampoline. He also rents a sparkly white tuxedo for his work’s party. Susan, a work colleague of his, takes an interest in Josh (and his recent promotion) and they share a limousine back to his house from the party. Imagine her surprise when she sees the giant pinball machine and inflatable palm trees.
Josh’s birthday is spent at a restaurant with Billy and riding a rollercoaster, that he’s now tall enough to go on, with Susan. The Zoltar fortune telling machine is there but Josh is so wrapped up in the delight of being over 5 foot, he fails to notice it. His newfound maturity inspires him to tutor a child in algebra and engage in intelligent discussions at dinner parties. The grownup life is smooth sailing for Josh.
Billy has tracked down the location of the wish making machine and comes by Josh’s office to help him inhabit his 13 year old body again. But Josh is so involved in being a businessman and steady boyfriend to Susan, he doesn’t want to go back to the ‘Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop’ life he once led. Why would you if you got to have a Pepsi machine in your bedroom?
Josh eventually breaks it to Susan that he’s 13. She is fairly dubious. Josh walks out of an important business presentation the next day, Susan running after him. He finds the Zoltar machine and wishes himself back to his teenage self. Susan mourns her relationship with Josh. ‘Heart and Soul’ plays one more time. Broken hearts, old souls.
First line: (Josh) “You are standing in the cavern of the evil wizard. All around you are the carcasses of slain ice dwarfs.”
Last line: (Josh) “I missed you all so much.”
Best line: (Interviewer) “Oh G.W. My brother-in-law got his doctorate there. Did you pledge?”
(Josh) “Yes. Every morning.”
The good: The piano scene
The bad: Susan in any scene
The funny: Laser tag in the toy shop and the white tuxedo
Best character: MacMillan
Worst character: Susan
Moral of the story: Have a good understanding of all possible definitions of a word before trusting your life on its meaning. And check the height restrictions on roller coasters.
Overall opinion: “What are you tryna’ do, get us all fired? You gotta pace yourself slowly, slowly!”