“I wish I was big.”
Every young boy’s fantasy came true for little Josh Baskin in 1988′s Big. Thanks to a mystical carnival machine, little Josh became big Josh overnight, only to discover that the adult world wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. With Tom Hanks in the “big Josh” role and former Laverne and Shirley star Penny Marshall directing, Big captured the innocence of childhood with humor, tenderness and insight.
At the start of the film, Josh is still a 12-year-old New Jerseyite, madly in puppy love with an older blonde girl. Josh and best friend Billy head for a local carnival, where right in front of his blonde goddess and a crowd of older kids, Josh is refused admission to a carnival ride. He’s too little. Humiliated, Josh tries the “Zoltar Speaks” machine, which offers him one wish. He wishes he were big.
The next morning, Josh wakes up to find his wish has come true, as Tom Hanks’ thirtysomething face stares back at him in the mirror. Naturally, Josh’s mom doesn’t believe this grown man is her son, forcing Josh to run from home screaming. Billy does believe him, and he convinces Josh to head for New York City, where big people go to play. Josh scores a data entry job at a toy company, but after a kid-to-kid-at-heart bonding session with company owner “Mac” MacMillan at FAO Schwartz (the famous giant piano keyboard sequence), the man-boy is promoted to VP of product development. He soon moves into a gorgeous Manhatten apartment, complete with a pinball machine and giant indoor trampoline.
Fellow exec Paul doesn’t like the new guy, but Susan slowly warms up to Josh’s innocent charms. From an adult perspective, things look pretty rosy for big Josh, but Josh doesn’t see things from an adult perspective. Big has its advantages, but Josh just wants to be himself again.
Big‘s sweet, childlike nature won over audiences young and old, who made the film one of the biggest hits of the year. The movie also helped turn Tom Hanks-who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance-from the gifted goof of Splash and TV’s Bosom Buddies into one of the biggest leading men in Hollywood.
If you have fond memories of seeing Big on the big screen, we’d love to hear them in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this endearing 80s film.