Do Over: Big
One of the most confusing things about Big is Josh’s wish.
“I wish I were big”
Not “I wish I was an adult” or “I wish I looked like that bloke from Splash! – his face is exceptional”. No. He wants to be ‘big’.
Of course they had to work the movie title in somewhere but it’s an odd choice of words. “I wish I were big” could easily be interpreted as “I wish my underpants were a little tighter” but one would doubt that would merit a PG rating. Perhaps Josh meant “I wish I was 7ft 11” which makes more sense since Josh was turned away from a theme park ride because he was too short. I digress.
Big (1988), if you somehow managed to skip childhood, tells the story of young Josh Baskin. Whilst at a funfair, Josh makes the aforementioned wish at a machine called ‘Zoltar Speaks’. It is scary beyond all reason. The next morning, Josh awakes as a 30 year old Tom Hanks. His mother is absolutely horrified that Tom Hanks is in her house and naturally assumes that he has kidnapped her son and put on his pyjamas as a symbol of victory. Josh, with the help of his best mate Billy, rents a shitty hotel room and gets a data entry job at MacMillan Toy Company. Because apparently getting a job is that easy. Being the child that he is, Josh demonstrates to the MacMillan boss his knowledge of toys and enthusiasm for the products and subsequently gets promoted to company toy tester. Meanwhile, Josh attracts the attention of Susan, a toy executive with a large stick rammed up her bottom and an icky romance between the two blossoms. Hilarity ensues. At the end, having confessed to Susan that he is not actually Tom Hanks after all, Josh suggests that Susan wish to become a child herself. Susan says no. No doubt Josh made a very sad diary entry that night.
Watching Big as a child was enlightening. It made us look forward to adulthood not as the monotonous, unrelenting march to the grave we feared it to be but the chance to have a trampoline in our bedroom. It also made us wonder, if jobs like Josh’s existed and were so obtainable, why more adults didn’t do it.
Watching Big as an adult however makes me rather depressed. The overall message is “Enjoy your youth for adulthood is nothing but a grey, miserable existence. You probably won’t be able to afford the mortgage on a house with ceilings high enough to accommodate a trampoline anyway so best just make do with jumping on those scales you fat mess”.
You probably work in an office. If you do, you’ll know how horrible it can be. We ALL want an exciting job. A job that might stimulate us or challenge us creatively so that we leave each night happy and fulfilled rather than going home to huddle in the corner in our greying underwear crying into a cup of instant noodles cursing the God that has forsaken us. Comparing Josh’s ‘adult’ life to mine makes me sad in my face. Josh starts off with an entry level position and with just one trip to FAO Schwartz he suddenly he has his own office with walls and windows and toys and a secretary you could communicate with via a button on your desk. Do I get to go to executive functions in a snappy white suit? Do I fuck. Do I get to play with toys for a living? Does battering a repeatedly faulty printer to death using my bare hands count? Can I play ‘Chopsticks’ on a giant piano? I’m lucky if I can get out of a chair without fainting from the sheer herculean effort involved.
He is a CHILD. He’s barely adjusting to the hormonal head fuck that is puberty and he acts like a promotion is the easiest thing to obtain in the world if you want it. Screw you Hollywood and your dream jobs. I for one would love to see a protagonist that maintains spread-sheets and nothing else 40 hours a week. What about someone who just does the bins for the council? If a CHILD can wander into a dream job, what the hell is wrong with me? Oh yes, that’s right. I’m lazy beyond all definitions of the word.
According to Big, I have truly failed as an adult and so have you.
Unanswered Questions Include:
Why, upon realising that they have stumbled upon a magical wish granting machine did they not use it again? Why not wish for his Ma to win the lottery? Better yet, why not wish to erase the memories of the traumatic few months she thought her son was being held captive by Tom Hanks thereby saving her from years of pain and expensive therapy Josh you selfish little bastard?
Speaking of therapy, how long can we assume Susan was in recovery after not only witnessing her boyfriend turn into a small boy right before her eyes but the realisation that she’d been in an actual relationship with said small boy the whole time? She probably hit the drink. There’s a charming aftermath for you.
In conclusion: Big. Tom Hanks. Underlying hints at paedophilia. Scary men who live in machines. I give it 10/10.