Big

Director: Penny Marshall

1988

First off I must apologize for my long absence from the blogosphere but real life took over at Christmas and left little time for watching films. But it’s a new year, I’m armed with the latest version of 1001 Movies You Must Watch Before You Die and I finally have some time on my hands when I can indulge in just relaxing and watching (mostly) awesome films for this blog. So without further a do here is the first installment for 2013 (sorry it’s a short one) …

There is something incredibly charming about Big and it all stems from Tom Hanks‘ marvelous performance. He perfectly encapsulates the innocence and naivety of a child suddenly and unexpectedly transported into the body, and consequently the world, of an adult. “Perfectly capturing the mannerisms of a pre-teen boy (Hanks watched his “younger self”, Moscow, playing with costar Jared Rushton, and copied him), Hanks portrays overgrown Josh as a gangly innocent who believably charms his way into a job – at a toy company of course.” (761, Joanna Berry, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) Hanks is superb! I especially love his vulnerability on that first night in New York. The characterization of Josh, both young and old, is really excellent. And the transition between the two is seamless. The change from adult Josh in a suit to young Josh in the same suit, now falling off him in a comical and yet endearing way, is a pretty moving image to finish the film on.

It is a joyous film to watch and always has been. I loved this film as a child because let’s face it at some point every child wishes they were “big” and therefore can relate to Josh. And I still love it now when I’m grown up although I relate to it differently. Over the course of the film Hanks inevitably grows up and begins to lose that remarkable view on life that we all seem to lose at some point and yet ultimately he makes the right decision and goes back to his life as a teenager. I think this is how I now relate to the film … part of me wishes to go back to when life was simpler and i had fewer responsibilities and yet at the same time I so do not want to relive my teen years (does anyone really?!). It reminds you to look at the world with fresh eyes and not through the cynical eyes of an adult.

Jared Rushton is brilliant as Josh’s best friend, Billy, a supremely confident, street-savvy kid who keeps his head during this bizarre turn of events. “[Penny Marshall] gets maximum humor from her cast, especially in the pairing of Hanks and Rushton (as Josh’s schoolboy pal)” (761) They work so well together, bouncing off one another effortlessly. You totally believe that they are best friends – a credit to both their talents as actors. I love the little song they have, which becomes a key element in persuading Billy that this strange adult really is his best friend, Josh. There was a time when I was younger when I knew the entire song but sadly that is no longer the case.

There are some movie moments that stay with you forever like wanting to ice skate in Central Park after seeing Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, Chris Columbus). One of my strongest ones comes from Big. Ever since first watching Big when I was really very little (the benefit of having older kids in your life is being introduced to excellent films early on) I have wanted to play in FAO Schwarz 5th Avenue and more specifically on the giant floor piano!

Big Tom Hanks FAO Schwartz

 

 

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