by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
BLURAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Tom Hanks as JOSH
Elizabeth Perkins as SUSAN
Robert Loggia as MACMILLAN
John Heard as PAUL
Jared Rushton as BILLY
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Penny Marshall
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Josh Baskin is a 13-year-old kid who uses an arcade game to wish he were big. When he wakes up the next morning, he realizes his wish has come true, and he is now a 30-year-old man, played by Tom Hanks. Josh tries to talk to his mother, but she freaks out, thinking this strange man kidnapped him. The only person he can confide in is his best friend, who helps him get an apartment and a job at a toy company in New York City. Josh soon impresses the president of the company (played by Robert Loggia) with his intimate knowledge of toys.
As Josh waits to find the Zoltar arcade game that originally granted his wish, he learns to live as an adult. He starts a relationship with a woman in the company and is also quickly promoted to a vice president position. Soon, though, his lost childhood comes to haunt him, and Josh realizes that he just wants to go home.
WHAT I LIKED
“Big” is one of those unexpected classics that literally made careers for Tom Hanks and Penny Marshall. I remember seeing it in the theater at a time when I was moving from adolescence into adulthood. I was at a unique time in my life where I could appreciate the film’s perspective, both from 13-year-old Josh’s point of view, and from his 30-year-old point of view as well.
There’s a sweetness behind “Big” that simply hasn’t been achieved by other age-switching comedies, especially the three other ones that pre-dated this movie in the theaters in 1988. There is also a timelessness about the movie that is only dated by its styles of clothing and music. Otherwise, the themes are universal and transcend generations.
“Big” was the first time that audiences got to see Tom Hanks’ real acting chops. It seems odd to talk about this in 2009 considering he’s one of the most respected actors in Hollywood today, but in the late 1980s, he was only seen as a comedic actor.
Hanks owns this movie, but he gets excellent support by his fellow actors like Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia and John Heard. The story exudes a warmth that should be able to capture the heart of even the most cynical adult... or 13-year-old.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There’s very little I take issue with for the film “Big.” The new Blu-ray release includes the extended cut, which was released about two years ago, and the Blu-ray format allows the viewer to choose which one to watch. I personally prefer the theatrical cut considering the additional 25 minutes added to the running time is really extraneous (or it wouldn’t have been cut in the first place). Still, fans of the film can enjoy the extra footage as it gets them more into the characters’ lives.
This Blu-ray release includes all the bonus material from the Extended Edition DVD that came out in 2007. The big advantage (if you’ll pardon the pun) is that the movie is now available in high definition. It’s not a big summer action flick with eye-popping cinematography and booming sound, but fans of the film will enjoy the more theatrical presentation in the hi-def format.
Bonus materials include a “Big Brainstorming” commentary track with writers Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg, who also provide their audio notes from their original story brainstorming session.
Other features include eight deleted scenes, five of which are introduced by Penny Marshall. Retrospective featurettes include “Big Beginnings” in which Ross and Spielberg explain their inspirations for the story and how the project was developed, “Chemistry of a Classic” in which the acting talents of Tom Hanks are spotlighted, and “The Work of Play” in which real-life toy makers and marketeers describe their business and how they use fun in a productive way.
The bonus material is rounded out with “AMC Backstory: Big,” giving a recent look back on the theatrical phenomenon, along with a vintage “Carnival Party Newswrap,” which spotlights the 1988 release of the film.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
The family audience and Tom Hanks fans.