If you’ve ever wanted to perform a duet with an old man on a giant keyboard in a toy store, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you’ve seen this gem from the ‘80s. Penny Marshall directs and Tom Hanks is Big. It’s the story of a kid who makes a wish and becomes trapped in an adult’s body. It’s a scenario that’s been done a thousand times before, but this is the gold standard of body switching movies.
12-year old Josh is too short for a ride at a carnival. He sees a Zoltar Speaks wishing machine, and wishes that he was big. The next day he wakes up and he is now a 30-year old man. His mom thinks that he was kidnapped, so Josh turns to his friend Billy for help. Billy gets Josh a hotel room in the city, and helps him get a job, and essentially teaches him how to be an adult, even though he’s still a kid too.
Josh is working for a toy company, and since he’s still a kid, he knows what kids want. His boss notices him and promotes him. A yuppie executive named Paul dislikes Josh for his instant success, and Paul’s girlfriend Susan starts to become attracted to Josh. She dumps Paul and starts a relationship with Josh. He likes her, but he knows that he can’t be thirty forever and so he goes back to being a kid.
On the surface, this is just a lighthearted comedy. Josh and Billy are great friends, and they have a lot of fun just playing and being immature. Tom Hanks goes a great job of acting like a kid. Compare Tom Hanks in Big to Robin Williams in Jack. Tom Hanks seems innocent and childlike, while Robin Williams just does a parody of what he thinks kids are like. Jared Rushton plays Billy, the best friend. He really is the glue that holds this film together. He helps Josh out; he is his guide to the adult world. It’s also kind of weird that no one would say anything about a 30-year old man constantly hanging out with a 12-year old boy and they clearly aren’t related. Plus Billy is constantly going in and out of the city by himself. His best friend was seemingly kidnapped, but Billy’s parents just let him do whatever he wants apparently. Maybe they don’t love him.
So Josh is just a little kid, but Susan doesn’t know that and basically instigates a relationship with him. She uses her body as a sexual weapon. She seduces him and has sex with him. It’s a very weird case of statutory rape, but rape is rape, and she definitely raped him. He isn’t emotionally or mentally capable of making adult decisions.
The Zoltar Speaks wishing machine raises a few questions. I know that this isn’t Harry Potter or anything, it’s trying to be a fantastic depiction of the real world, but the fact is that some company can manufacture magic. Even if there is only one wishing machine that actually grants wishes, the implications of such a device would change the world. If you knew there was a machine that granted wishes you would use that shit all the time. When Josh wishes to go back to being a kid, he should have also asked for a puppy. And Susan knows about it, why doesn’t she wish for something to make her happy, like a puppy? And even best friend Billy knows about it, but he didn’t wish for anything either, like a puppy. There are three main characters that know about a mechanical genie that will make your dreams come through, and only one character that uses it to make wishes. And he didn’t even ask for a puppy.
Watch this movie. Watch it again if you’ve seen it before. It’s always enjoyable.
Critically Rated at 14/17