As enigmatic (and questionably accurate to the film) as that poster is, Big is a straightforward and light-hearted “comedy” that damn near everyone reading this has probably seen. I use quotes around the word “comedy” since this isn’t really a laugh-out-loud sort of film (although I caught myself chuckling at a number of points), but it’s too cheerful and spirited for one to call it a drama, or anything of the sort. Sure, it’s got a romantic subplot, and the third act is similarly down due to the low point the character hits, but you know what? I watched this film, for I believe the third time, and I still had a big stupid grin on my face through most of it. That’s how unbelievably likable it is.
Penny Marshall directs Tom Hanks in probably the best cast role of the decade. Josh Baskin is an average kid, with your average troubles and average wants. When he is pulled from an amusement park ride for not being tall enough, he finds an automated fortune teller and makes a simple wish: “I wish I was big.” This being a movie, his wish literally comes true, and he wakes up the next day transformed into a 30-year-old version of himself, played by Hanks. The film follows how he adjusts to “adult life”, and the pros and cons of still being a kid at heart. It’s not the cinematography or the editing or any of the technicals that put this on the list. No, much like The Princess Bride, this just has a whole lot of heart, and with the list’s propensity toward dark, morose, and moribund content, we really need a film like this to just lift our spirits. Hanks would get his first nomination for Best Actor with this film, and while it’s not all that critic-praiseworthy, it’s still damn near authentic, especially given that Hanks has said he basically copied the actions and mannerisms of the kid who plays young Josh Baskin. It works splendidly.
This is another one, like Say Anything, that seemed to have made the list for one stand-out scene (the one with the giant foot piano), but on a second look, one can see what a fine film it really is. It rarely, if ever, makes a false move, and most importantly, it’s just a ton of fun to watch. This must have been a blast to film, and there were so many moments I was surprised the cast were able to keep it together (though who knows how many takes it took for them to do that). Contrary to my opening paragraph, if you actually have yet to see this film, make the time to. Give that inner kid within you a couple hours or so to just live a little. We all could do with a little more of that.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10