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Review: Big

Updated on November 8, 2011


4 out of 5 stars

The only thing you need to do to succeed as an adult is act more like a kid.

Or so the producers of Big would have you believe. In real life, there's a good reason we don't go around playing with toys and dropping water balloons on people. But that doesn't really matter. Big is still an enjoyable, indeed magical, movie experience.

Big is about a 13-year-old boy, Josh, who still plays with toys, is not mature enough for girls to take him seriously, and not even tall enough to get on a carnival ride. He comes across a mysterious Zoltar machine and wishes to be big. The next day he wakes up to find himself in Tom Hanks's 30-year-old body. Josh makes the best of the situation by pretending to be kidnapped and then joining adult society.

The only complaint I have about this film is the level of willful suspension of disbelief the audience is expected to suspend. I will buy that a Zoltar machine will grant a kid's wish to become an adult overnight. But when the 13-year-old adult goes to apply for a job, he only has to fill out a one-page job application, using a made-up social security number, has no resume, no references, and is hired after stumbling through a 30-second interview. Then, after a couple chance encounters with the company's owner, he is promoted to vice-president. The kid accomplishes more in a week thanks to his adult body than I have my whole life. Maybe it was just easier to get a job in the '80s.

On top of that, Josh dates one of his coworkers and manages to get to second base (on camera, probably to home plate off camera). He will be the only boy in the seventh grade who won't be lying when he says he's gone all the way. Eventually Josh learns that being an adult isn't all fun and games, and yearns to be a kid again.

The movie is better if you don't think too hard. It's still a fun movie, and a minor classic in its own way. Tom Hanks is great in his role. He never seems to forget that he is a kid, and all his mannerisms have the nuances of a young boy. The scene where Josh plays a giant keyboard with his boss is one of those iconic moments in cinema that will stick with you your whole life.

Big works as a fantasy. It has the charm of an old Frank Capra film. As long as you go with the flow and don't question the movie's logic, you will find it thoroughly enjoyable.


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