Movie #47 2021: Big (1988)

Statistically, I’ve only seen 14% of Tom Hanks’ movies. In fairness, that’s 19 films. He’s in a lot of shit, you guys. In total, he’s in 127 films including shorts and documentaries. For some reason, even though it’s one of Hanks’ more watched and beloved movies, Big had never crossed my path before now, and I seemed to be getting bogged down in pretty serious movies so made this one the next point of call for some levity.

Big is the story of young Josh, who visits the local fair and makes a wish on an old fortune teller arcade game. Little does he know that this particular brand of machine really does make the user’s wish come true, and when he wishes to be ‘big’, he wakes up the next day as a full-grown man with the face of Tom Hanks. His mother is understandably freaked out, and Josh is forced to run away to New York City and find a job. The film then follows him on his escapades, as we see what he gets up to now he’s technically an adult.

Before we begin: young Tom Hanks is the most adorable human being that ever existed. Look at how young he looks. So, so cute.

Whilst we’re on the subject of the man himself, it’s difficult to picture anyone else playing this role more successfully than him. He’s the only actor who could’ve got the right sense of youth in both his facial expressions and his physicality. And what a great face he has. 

Before I get carried away in baby Tom’s adorable little smile, let’s talk about the movie itself. Sooooo the romantic subplot is just a tad problematic in this day and age, but it’s easy to brush that aside because it’s absolutely not the point of the movie. It’s message is heartfelt and a breath of fresh air, reminding adults not to take life too seriously and to remember what’s really important. Very well written, although I do think it could have been ten minutes or so shorter. (For context, the film sees Josh – who is technically 13 years old – lose his virginity to a 30+ year old woman. Of course the woman (Elizabeth Perkins) is none the wiser, and thinks Josh is the same age as her.)

As a minor, irrelevant note, I’d also like to point out that as a huge Giants fan, I appreciated all the Big Blue memorabilia in this. I especially enjoy that Hanks was forced to wear several items of Giants clothing when he’s a Raiders guy in real life. Heh.

Everything in Big is very eighties, from the props, to the way it’s filmed, to the set. However, the story itself is timeless in that it will help grown-ups to think about what it was like to be a kid again. Simply joyous.

Overall, it’s clear to see why this is such an iconic nostalgia-fuelled film for so many. The piano scene? Everybody knows it, and it’s truly magical. Though it was very good, it’s still not my favourite Hanks movie. In fact, it’s not even my favourite Hanks movie of the year so far (hello to A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!). Regardless, still recommended to everyone of all ages.

Big is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

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