tek's rating: meh and three quarters

Big (PG)
20th Century Studios; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; Hulu; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: spoilers

This came out in 1988, which kind of surprises me; I would have thought it was earlier than that. I'm sure I saw it once when I was a kid, so I'm including it on my movie nostalgia page, even though I don't feel super nostalgic about it. I watched it for what must be the second time in 2022, and I wasn't expecting to like it. In fact I was kind of dreading it, but I wanted to do a review. And I didn't end up liking it, but I didn't dislike it, either. It was a critical and financial success when it first came out, and I'm not sure what to think about that. I'm not sure I think it deserved to be as popular as it was, but I can also understand why a lot of people liked it more than I did. I considered filing it under "coming of age", but I wasn't really comfortable with that, so I just went with "fantasy".

It's about a 12-year-old kid named Josh Baskin (at one point in the movie he has a birthday, turning 13). He goes to a carnival where he wants to impress a girl by going on a scary ride, but he's too short to do so. So when he finds a fortune-teller machine called Zoltar, he wishes to be big. The next morning, he wakes up to find himself an adult (played by Tom Hanks). Understandably, his mother thinks he's an intruder, and chases him out of the house. She spends the whole movie thinking he's been kidnapped. Next, Josh approaches his best friend, Billy, who at first thinks he's a stranger, and is frightened, but Josh soon convinces him who he is. So Billy steals some clothes and money from his father, and takes Josh to New York City by bus, where Josh rents a really seedy motel room. He later gets a job doing data entry for MacMillan Toy Company. Before long he meets the company's owner, Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia), who is impressed by his knowledge of toys and understanding of how kids think, so he makes Josh a vice president. (He then gets a much nicer place to live.) This upsets another executive at the company, Paul, who sees Josh as a diabolical rival. Yet another executive, Susan Lawrence (Elizabeth Perkins), takes an interest in Josh, and they eventually become romantically involved. I've got to say, I found it hard to believe that no one ever leapt to the conclusion that Josh had a learning disability or anything like that, and also hard to believe that Susan fell for him the way she did. But one thing I've always disliked quite a bit about the movie is that they apparently have sex. (We don't see that, but we do see some foreplay.) There's no way Susan could have known it, but this is technically statutory rape. I guess I can't blame her, but still... it's really disturbing. And I'm surprised she doesn't get more freaked out about it than she does when she learns the truth at the end of the movie.

Anyway, Josh and Billy applied for some kind of list of places the Zoltar machine might have moved to after the carnival left their home town. It's supposed to take like six weeks for them to receive the list, during which time Josh gets increasingly invested in his new job, and in his relationship with Susan. One thing I did like about the movie is an iconic scene in which Josh and Mr. MacMillan play a giant keyboard on the floor at FAO Schwarz by dancing on it. That was neat. And really, the whole movie is interesting, I guess. It's supposed to be a comedy, but I was more interested in the dramatic aspects of the story, like how scary the whole situation was for Josh at first. And there were parts I didn't necessarily see as either comedy or drama, but somewhere in between. Anyway, Billy eventually finds out where the Zoltar machine is, so Josh can wish to be a kid again. But it's a hard decision, because he cares about Susan (though I feel like he was too immature to have a real understanding of what romantic love is supposed to be). And I guess I don't know what else to say. It's not a bad movie, but even the parts I kind of liked weren't enough for me to overcome my discomfort with the whole Josh and Susan situation. And there was plenty about the movie that I had no feelings about whatsoever... which ended up feeling like "dislike", somehow. But overall, I did come close to liking it.

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tek's nostalgia