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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Tom Hanks
Elizabeth Perkins
Robert Loggia
John Heard
Jared Rushton.
Directors
Penny Marshall.
Screenwriters
Gary Ross
Anne Spielberg.
Running Time
104 minutes

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Big
Warmhearted bodyswap comedy starring Tom Hanks.


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Plot
Having made a rash wish at a fairground booth, 12 year-old Josh awakens in an adult body, but still very much the child within. Unable to explain the transformation, he escapes to the big city to find employment at a toy company and the romantic attentions of a woman far too old for him, at least on the inside.


Review

The finest in the spate of body-swap comedies of the late eighties, this is the film that revealed that Tom Hanks was capable of much more than just doltish comedy. His transformation into the jagged lope and wide-eyed enthusiasm of a prepubescent boy is a marvel of physical acting. The whole film rests on the realisation of that one idea, and the curly-haired everyman, here everyboy, makes it sing from the rafters.

The conceit, for all its inevitable sentiment, is that the world makes a whole lot more sense through the eyes of a child. Adults needlessly complicate, they lose touch with what matters. So this child behind-enemy-lines, dressed in adult skin, takes on the guise of idiot savant. Josh is a proto-Gump, but with the engaging street smarts of a neighbourhood kid. The bond between Hanks and Jared Rushton as Josh’s best mate Billy is seamlessly carried from boy to man.

Director Penny Marshall handles the more complicated proposals of the script with some subtlety: the terror of his first night in the big city is so realistic (and miraculously performed) we loose sight of Hanks as a thirtysomething man; the sexual interaction with Elizabeth Perkins avoids any kind of crass outfall; and there is a satisfying gradient as Josh absorbs adulthood all-too-swiftly laying the groundwork for his undoing. Life has its natural pace, don’t tamper. There’s also no need to examine the magic at work, it is a transformative power granted by the writers. 

Then the film is sprinkled with a particularly movie kind of magic — a succession of simple, joyous moments that lift off the screen and into the consciousness like stolen treasure. Hanks and Robert Loggia dancing chopsticks across an oversized keyboard, Perkins letting go of her grown-up inhibitions and trampolening for all she’s worth, the soft, knowing look she gives Josh as they must finally separate. It’s a purely Hollywood design, but that in a sense is what makes it so wonderful. Watch it through a kid’s eyes.


Extras

Big Big
Released: 01 August 2001
Trailer.


Verdict
As a crowd-pleasing comedy it works. But it really could have been so much more.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Big
Empire Star Rating

BEST...1988 MOVIE...EVER!!!

I loved Big immensely. It shows that children shouldn't rush into adulthood and that they should savour being a 13 year-old who is told to take out the trash but gets to play with their friends and mess around. And the end scene was heartbreaking (in a good way) to watch. Plus, Tom Hanks is brilliant in films such as this and makes you believe he is a 13 year old in a thirty-something year old body. Brilliant, just brilliant. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by livapr99 at 22:55, 08 April 2012 | Report This Post


Huh?

Did that 'final verdict' get cut and pasted from the wrong review? It makes no sense. This film is a classic - one of the finest truly all-ages films ever made. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tdfproductions at 19:04, 26 September 2008 | Report This Post


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