Wow, you're actually more terrifying through adult eyes.Big
is a 1988 film produced by James L Brooks
and directed by Penny Marshall, which stars Tom Hanks
as a 13-year-old boy in the body of a 30-something man. How did this happen? Well, Josh Baskin (David Moscow) was your average 13-year-old boy, who liked to play baseball and trade baseball cards. One evening, while he was at a carnival with his family, he tried to impress an older girl who was standing in line at a rollercoaster. But it backfired when the carnival worker pointed out he was too short to go on the ride. Despondent, he comes across the eerie-looking "Zoltar Speaks" wishing machine. With the machine, Josh wishes he was "big". The next morning, Josh awakens to find he's become a grown adult (Tom Hanks). He tries to go back to the carnival site but finds everything, including the wishing machine, gone. He tries to go home, but his mother mistakes him for an intruder and he gets driven out.
Desperate, he turns to his best friend, Billy Kopecki (Jared Rushton), for help. With a little money, he goes to New York City
where he gets an entry-level job at the MacMillan Toy Company so he can support himself until he tracks down the Zoltar machine. While there, his childlike viewpoint and honesty helps him gain favor with the CEO, Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia), and he moves up the ranks of the company quickly. Which is how he meets Susan Lawrence (Elizabeth Perkins
), an ambitious fellow executive. They soon fall for each other, although Josh starts to wonder: Should he stay with Susan or go back to his life as a 13-year-old?
This movie was a huge hit, critically and financially, in 1988. It even got Tom Hanks his first Academy Award
Tropes featured in this film include:
- Adult Fear: Josh's cover story for his mother is that he's been kidnapped. Despite assurances that he is being treated very well and will eventually be returned, his mother is understandably terrified and deeply concerned.
- Alternate Ending: This German troper distinctly remembers the film ending with a new young girl coming into Josh's class room and sitting right next to him - it's a de-aged Susan. Since memory can be tricky, I asked other Germans who could remember that ending. Now IMDb lists such an alternate version for New Zealand, but maybe it was also aired on German television.
- Benevolent Boss: Mr. MacMillan.
- Break the Haughty: From the moment Josh shows up at the office, Paul is constantly outshone and often winds up looking foolish. What makes it better is that Josh is so naive that he's not even aware of how much his actions infuriate Paul.
- Defrosting Ice Queen / Sugar and Ice Personality: Susan.
- The Eighties
- Face on a Milk Carton
- Fiction Business Savvy: Executive brainstorming on new toys, "Transformers for girls!"
- Honest Corporate Executive: Mr. MacMillan.
- Inferred Holocaust: Cracked has a particularly disturbing interpretation regarding this movie ending.
- It Won't Turn Off: The fortune-teller machine works despite not being plugged in. At the end of the movie, the protagonist is trying to reverse his sudden adulthood, and at first nothing happens - until he realizes that it's actually plugged in, and swiftly pulls out the plug to set it back in 'magic mode'.
- Jerkass: Paul.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Billy.
- Just Woke Up That Way: when Josh first becomes an adult.
- Magic Pants: Averted. Josh wakes up as an adult in the same undies he went to bed in before. Later a Brick Joke when Josh goes back to being a kid. The suit he wore didn't shrink with him.
- The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: The carnival and Zoltar.
- Make a Wish: The Applied Phlebotinum du jour.
- Male Gaze: When Josh accidentally bumps into Susan on his first day at MacMillan Toys.
- Overnight Age-Up: Trope Codifier.
- One of the Kids: Josh's childlike nature tends to bring out the inner child in other adults around him. Mr. MacMillan gets back to the roots of an extroverted kid loving to play with toys, Susan turning mischievous and like a slightly bossy older girl, and Paul turning into a petulant bully.
- Panty Shot: Susan while on the trampoline.
- Precision F-Strike: When Billy tries to tell Josh about the whereabouts of the Zoltar machine, only to get silenced. Particularly notable as it's a PG film.
- Something Only They Would Say / Trust Password: Adult Josh manages to convince Billy of his identity by singing the first few lines of a rhyme that the two of them had previously made up together.
- Tacky Tuxedo: Josh wears one (with sequins!) to an office party.
- Throw It In: The scene where Josh and Billy shoot Silly String at each other was derived from Hanks, Rushton and Moscow being left in a room filled with toys.
- You Must Be This Tall To Ride - The entire plot is sparked by Josh not being tall enough to ride the roller coaster.