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BIG (review)

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Written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg
Directed by Penny Marshall
Starring Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins
 

Josh: I wish I was big. 

I have a confession to make; the movie BIG holds a very special place in my heart. When I was a young girl, I would spend many of my weekends in pyjamas curled up in front of a crackling fireplace at my cousins’ house, and spend countless hours with them watching a handful of movies, including BIG, repeatedly. Though my cousins and I have all grown in age, we still hold the tradition to this day. It’s hard to believe that it has been twenty-five years since the theatrical release of BIG. Thankfully, this holiday season, Twentieth Century Fox has released a newly remastered version of the film on a DVD and Blu-ray combo pack, abundantly filled with fascinating featurettes that are bound to be pored over by children of all ages.

For those new to the classic film, the story revolves around Josh Baskin (David Moscow), an ordinary 12-year-old, until he wishes to be “big” to Zoltar, a magical fortune-telling machine at a travelling amusement park. The next morning, he wakes up in the body of a grown man (Tom Hanks) and is forced to face the world as such. With the help of his street-smart best friend, Billy (Jared Rushton), he bides the six week waiting period for locating the travelling Zoltar machine by working at a large New York toy company run by McMillan (Robert Loggia). With youthful exuberance and naiveté, he manages to transform the company as well as marketing executive, Susan (Elizabeth Perkins).

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Although it can be dark thematically, BIG is essentially a lighthearted fairytale for children large and small. Over the past two and a half decades, however, children’s films have evolved and become more starkly violent and mature. It is thus fascinating to note that BIG was co-written by Gary Ross, director of the first film in the immensely popular, and often violent, children’s film franchise THE HUNGER GAMES. One of the disc’s most insightful features is a commentary from co-writers, Ross and Anne Spielberg, that includes snippets from their initial brainstorming sessions working on the Academy Award-nominated screenplay. In another interesting featurette, they are joined by the film’s producer, James L. Brooks, who recalls motivating former comedic actress, Penny Marshall into directing the film. Noticeably absent from the special features, sadly, is star Tom Hanks, who ad-libbed many of the film’s most memorable moments and is spoken of with such genuine adoration by all those involved with the film.

Big

It was with wide-eyed childlike excitement that I spent hours watching all of the special features, and then exuberantly recalling the best parts to my cousins afterwards. The BIG 25th anniversary edition is essential viewing, and is sure to warm the heart and soul of all those that watch it.

5

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