Big 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review
12 year old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) is like most boys his age. He enjoys sports, is just starting to notice girls and is slowly realizing that, even though he’s almost a teenager, he still gets treated like a kid. One night at a carnival he comes across a machine that promises to grant his wish. He puts his quarter in and makes the one request we’ve all made at one point or another in our younger days: “I wish I was big.”
Thus begins the film that took comedian Hanks to the Oscars, put Penny Marshall on the “A” list of directors and made giant keyboards all the rage. Waking up the next morning, Josh finds himself in the body of a 30 year old man. Mistaken for an intruder by his mother (Mercedes Ruehl) he runs out the door to find his best friend, Billy (Jared Rushton). After some fast explaining he convinces Billy of who he really is. With his friend’s help, Josh finds a place to stay but realizes he needs to find a job. As fate would have it, he finds employment at the MacMillan Toy Company. Josh is perfect for the job he is given: evaluating toys. Though he’s 30 on the outside, he’s still a 12 year old on the inside and the perfect toy tester. His naiveté’ and enthusiasm are embraced by many of his co-workers, especially Susan (Perkins). One person who’s not too happy with Josh is Paul (John Heard, portraying the perfect smarmy jerk), Susan’s former boyfriend, who isn’t pleased that Susan has taken an interest in Josh. Lucky for Josh he has also gained the attention of the company owner (Loggia), a man who understands that all of the data and test marketing in the world can’t hold a candle to the response of a child.
BIG was the fourth “young/old” film to be released in an eight month period (late 1987 – summer 1988), following LIKE FATHER LIKE SON, VICE/VERSA and 18 AGAIN. While those three films had a similar theme – a young man and an older man switching bodies and lives, BIG was only concerned with one person. There was no Kirk Cameron or Dudley Moore or Judge Reinhold or George Burns to take the focus off of Hanks’ Josh. And Hanks delivers a performance so perfect that it earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (he would lose that year to Dustin Hoffman in RAINMAN). It also helped get Hanks recognized for being more than a funny man. And, even though he would go on to be miscast in THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, it put him on the way to becoming a two time Oscar winner and one of the industry’s most beloved stars. Perkins is sweetly sexy as Susan, trying to fight her attraction to Josh but realizing she can’t. And Robert Loggia is funny in a rare performance where he’s not a bad guy. Loggia’s “dance” with Hanks on the oversized keyboard at FAO Swarz is one of the most enduring scenes in film history.
For her sophomore effort (following JUMPING JACK FLASH), director Marshall wisely had young Moscow perform Josh’s scenes for Hanks to study and get an indication of how a 12 year old would react to the life Josh now lives. This informed both the star and director and helped make BIG one of the most popular comedies of all time.
BIG 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented in its original 1:85.1 aspect ratio, the film has a good, not great transfer. The colors are somewhat soft (muted) but overall the picture sharp.
Audio: The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is cleanly recorded. The scene where Hanks and Loggia “play” chopsticks is a fine example of how clear the sound is.
Though most of the extras available here can be found on a previous Blu-ray release, there are a few new items here to attract the BIG fan. The disc comes in a slip case that, when opened, plays “Heart and Soul,” the song Hanks and Loggia end up playing on the giant keyboard. Also included are three “Zoltar Speaks” cards. The (2) disc set includes both the original theatrical release and an extended cut on Blu-ray and a separate DVD with just the theatrical version. You can also look forward to:
Big Brainstorming – An Audio Documentary by Gary Ross and Annie Spielberg: Instead of the usual commentary, this consists of tapes recorded while the two writers were creating the script. This feature only works with the theatrical version.
Deleted Scenes with Optional Introductions by Penny Marshall (15:03): a few scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor (and are included in the extended cut). With the exception at a closer look at Billy’s family (featuring Frances Fisher as his mother), nothing cut was really missed.
“Big” Beginnings (16:29): Co-writers Ross and Spielberg (yes, she’s Steven’s sister) talk about their screenplay.
Chemistry of a Classic (23:47): a nice feature on the casting of the film.
The Work of Play (9:55): A look at the various toys featured in the film.
Hollywood Backstory: “Big” (21:16): A nice piece about the creation of the film, including the shocking confirmation that Robert DeNiro was originally slated to play Josh. Director Marshall likens that version of the film to “Mean Streets.”
Carnival Party Newswrap (1:33): A quick news piece on the premiere carnival held to celebrate the opening of the film.
Trailers and Television Spots: Two of each.