Big (film)

Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as Adult Josh Baskin, a young boy who makes a wish "to be big" and is then aged to adulthood overnight. The film also stars Elizabeth Perkins, David Moscow as young Josh, John Heard and Robert Loggia, and was written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg. It was produced by Gracie Films and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byPenny Marshall
Produced by
Written by
Music byHoward Shore
CinematographyBarry Sonnenfeld
Edited byBarry Malkin
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 3, 1988 (1988-06-03)
Running time
104 minutes (Theatrical), 130 minutes (Extended Edition)
CountryUnited States
Budget$18 million[1]
Box office$151.7 million[1]

Upon release, Big was met with universal critical acclaim, particularly for Hanks' performance. It was a huge commercial success as well, grossing $151 million worldwide against a production budget of $18 million. The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Hanks) and Best Original Screenplay.


Twelve-year-old Josh Baskin, who lives with his parents and infant sister Rachel in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, is told that he is too short for a carnival ride called the Super Loops, while attempting to impress Cynthia Benson, an older girl. He inserts a coin into an unusual antique arcade fortune teller machine called Zoltar, and makes a wish to be "big". It dispenses a card stating "Your wish is granted", but Josh is spooked when he notices that it has been unplugged the entire time.

The next morning, Josh has suddenly grown into a full-fledged adult. He tries to find the Zoltar machine, only to see an empty field, the carnival having moved on. Returning home, he tries to explain his predicament to his mother, who refuses to listen and then threatens him, thinking he is a stranger who has kidnapped her son. Fleeing from her, he then finds his best friend, Billy, and convinces him of his identity by singing a rap which only they know. With Billy's help, he learns that it will take at least a month to find the Zoltar machine again, so Josh rents a flophouse room in New York City and gets a job as a data entry clerk at the MacMillan Toy Company.

Josh meets the company's owner, Mr. MacMillan, at FAO Schwarz, and impresses him with his insight into current toys and his childlike enthusiasm. They play a duet on a foot-operated electronic keyboard, performing "Heart and Soul" and "Chopsticks". MacMillan invites Josh to a massive marketing campaign pitch meeting with the senior executives. Unimpressed with the toy, Josh shocks and challenges the executives with a simple declaration that the toy is not "fun," and while his follow-up suggestions invigorate the team for new ideas, he earns the animosity of Paul Davenport, the pitch's leader. Pleased, Mr. MacMillan promotes Josh to his dream job: getting paid to test toys as Vice President in charge of Product Development. With the promotion, his larger salary enables him to move into a spacious luxury apartment, which he and Billy fill with toys, a rigged Pepsi vending machine that dispenses free drinks, and a pinball machine. He soon attracts the attention of Susan Lawrence, a fellow MacMillan executive. A romance begins to develop, much to the dismay of her ruthless former boyfriend and coworker, Davenport. Josh becomes increasingly entwined in his "adult" life by spending time with her, mingling with her friends, and being in a steady relationship. His ideas become valuable assets to MacMillan Toys; however, he begins to forget what it is like to be a child, and his tight schedule now means that he never has time to hang out with his best friend Billy.

MacMillan asks Josh to come up with proposals for a new line of toys. He is intimidated by the need to formulate the business aspects of the proposal, but Susan says that she will handle the business end while he comes up with the ideas. Nevertheless, he feels pressured and longs for his old life. When he expresses doubts to Susan and attempts to explain that he is really a child, she interprets this as fear of commitment on his part and dismisses his explanation.

Josh learns from Billy that the Zoltar machine is now at Sea Point Park. He leaves in the middle of presenting the proposal to MacMillan and the other executives. Susan also leaves and encounters Billy, who tells her where Josh went. At the park, Josh finds the machine, unplugs it, and makes a wish to become "a kid again". He is then confronted by Susan, who, seeing the machine and the fortune it has given him, realizes that he was telling the truth. She becomes despondent at realizing their relationship is ending. He tells her that she was the one thing about his adult life that he wishes would not end and suggests that she use the machine to turn herself into a little girl. She declines, saying that being a child once was enough, and takes him home. After sharing an emotional goodbye with Susan, he becomes a child again. He says goodbye to Susan one last time before reuniting with his family. The film ends with Josh and Billy hanging out together as the song "Heart and Soul" plays over the credits.



Critical response

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 97% of 74 critics gave it a positive review, with an average rating of 7.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Refreshingly sweet and undeniably funny, Big is a showcase for Tom Hanks, who dives into his role and infuses it with charm and surprising poignancy."[2] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[3] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[4]

The New York Times praised the performances of Moscow and Rushton, saying the film "features believable young teen-age mannerisms from the two real boys in its cast and this only makes Mr. Hanks's funny, flawless impression that much more adorable."[5]

The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor (Hanks) and Best Original Screenplay.

The film is number 23 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies. In 2000, it was ranked 42nd on the American Film Institute's "100 Years…100 Laughs" list.[6] In June 2008, AFI named it as the tenth-best film in the fantasy genre.[7] In 2008, it was selected by Empire Magazine as one of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time."[8]

Big was part of a series of twin films featuring an age-changing plot produced in the late 1980s, including Like Father Like Son (1987), 18 Again! (1988), Vice Versa (1988), 14 Going on 30 (1988), and the Italian film Da grande (1987).[9][10] The latter Italian film has been said to be the inspiration for Big.[11][12]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Box office

The film opened at #2 with $8.2 million in its first weekend.[15] It would end up grossing over $151 million ($116 million in the US and $36 million internationally).[15] It was the first feature film directed by a woman to gross over $100 million.


Broadway musical

In 1996, the film was made into a musical for the Broadway stage. It featured music by David Shire, lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr., and a book by John Weidman. Directed by Mike Ockrent, and choreographed by Susan Stroman, it opened on April 28, 1996, and closed on October 13, 1996, after 193 performances.

Television show

On September 30, 2014, Fox announced that a TV remake, loosely based on the film, was planned. Written and executive produced by Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce, it dealt with what it means to be an adult and kid in present times.[16]


  1. "Big - Box Office Data, DVD and Blu-ray Sales, Movie News, Cast and Crew Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  2. "Big (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  4. "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Big" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  5. Maslin, Janet (June 3, 1988). "Review/Film; Tom Hanks as a 13-Year-Old, in 'Big'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  6. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 1, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  7. "10 Top 10: Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. 2008. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  8. "Empire's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time". 2006-12-05. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  9. Harmetz, Aljean (January 15, 1990). "The Media Business; Buchwald Ruling: Film Writers vs. Star Power". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  10. "15 Huge Facts About 'Big'". Mental Floss. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  11. "Cinema Italiano 2010: Master of Ceremonies and Jurors". Cinema Italiano in Hawaii. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  12. Irazábal Martín, Concha (1996). Alice, Sí Está: Directoras de Cine Europeas y Norteamericanas 1896-1996. Volume 23 of Cuadernos inacabados. Horas y Horas. ISBN 9788487715594.
  13. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  14. "AFI's 10 Top 10: Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  15. "Big (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  16. Andreeva, Nellie. "'Big' Series In Works At Fox With 'Enlisted's Kevin Biegel & Mike Royce". Retrieved 3 December 2015.

See also

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