Big: Extended Edition
Cast: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Jared Rushton
Director: Penny Marshall
SUNY Purchase '05
"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore
Big: Extended Edition
Review By: Rocco Passafuime
Big: Extended Edition
In the summer of 1988, there had already been three comedy films, Like Father, Like Son, Vice Versa, and 18 Again, all involving a plot where the adults magically transforming into children and the opposite, released in theatres in little over six months. While each of them were released to varying degrees of critical and commercial success, the most unique, the most beloved, and the most successful was none other than the very last one out of the gate, Big, which is now available on DVD in an all-new Extended Edition.
In suburban New York, Josh Baskin (David Moscow) is a 12 year old computer geek who, after being humiliated trying to impress a much taller teenage girl at a carnival, makes a wish on a spooky fortune teller machine "to be big"Â. Little does he know that the very next morning, his wish comes true as he wakes up as a 30 year-old man (Tom Hanks).
After his mother (Mercedes Ruehl) doesn't recognize Josh, he turns to his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) for help. He accompanies the newly-adult Josh into Manhattan to help him track down the elusive and possibly mystical fortune telling machine.
As a cover, Billy helps Josh get shelter in a run-down hotel room and a job in data entry for MacMillan Toys. After a chance meeting with the company's CEO, founder, and namesake (Robert Loggia), Josh gets quickly promoted up to the executive rank as a toy tester.
He soon lives the ultimate kid's dream as he buys a lavish apartment filled with all the toys he wants and his own soda vending machine to boot. He also acquires an enemy in ruthless fellow MacMillan executive Paul (John Heard) and later a romantic relationship with Paul's former girlfriend, executive Susan (Elizabeth Perkins), as he reaches the cusp of adolescence on his birthday at 13.
However, as he grows more accustomed to his seemingly idyllic adult existence, Josh misses his best friend, his family, and his old life. He comes to discover that he can only live childhood once and Josh is brought to a fateful decision when he finally tracks down the hallowed fortune telling machine.
Nearly 20 years after its original release, Big has proven to endure as the best of all the age-changing fantasy comedy films, despite the many released less than a year prior to it. While Big already has a simple, yet highly imaginative plot going for it already, what really makes the film endure to this day is former Laverne And Shirley star-turned-director Penny Marshall's subtly sensitive, character-driven direction and most importantly, Tom Hanks.
Hanks, who had previously been entirely a comic actor in films like Bachelor Party and Splash, gives a tour de force performance as a 12 year old in an adult's body. He strikes a pitch-perfect balance between comedic adolescent naÃƒÂ¯veté and flailing and touchingly believable
In this all-new Extended Edition DVD, you have the option of watching either the original theatrical cut or an all-new extended cut of the film. While the extended cut is a great way to watch the movie if you've seen it half-a-dozen times already, the scenes by and large, many likely deleted for pacing and plot progression purposes, add little of value to the film story-wise, but wisely the studio gives the viewer the option of either or.
The DVD is presented in the 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, with the sound in standard Dolby Stereo 2.0. The DVD is packed with plenty of special features that spread over 2 discs.
On disc one, the sole special feature is an audio documentary from 1984 of conversation of screenwriters Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg conceiving the film's script. While having it where the audio commentary would usually be is a bit unusual, the footage is infectiously fun as much of what they talk about made its way into the final film and it really offers an unprecedented insight into the creative brainstorming process.
Disc 2 begins with seven deleted scenes, all put back into the film's extended cut, with introductions to each scene by director Penny Marshall. While the material is a bit repetitious after already seeing the extended cut, the studio is wise to have it as an alternate option for those who want to see firsthand what is put back in the new cut.
Also included is an edition of AMC's Hollywood Backstories profile series from 2001 on the film, which has great interviews with the cast and crew. Disc 2 is also packed with several featurettes.
Big Beginnings interviews screenwriters Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg and producer James L. Brooks, while The Chemistry Of A Classic featurette is a more expansive and encompassing behind-the-scenes look at the film's conception and creation, with interviews with nearly every cast and crew member, except for Hanks. While much of the material tends to get repetitive from feature to feature, it's generously informative and has great interviews with the cast and crew.
The featurette The Work Of Play interviews several real-life toy testers. While it doesn't strongly relate to the movie itself, it's a fun and fascinating look into the life of a toy tester and how toys are created, made, and processed.
Rounding out the special features is Carnival Party Newswrap. It's a brief promotional video from around the time of the film's release. It's not very in-depth in documenting the event, but it is a great historical artifact from the time it was released.
While the extended cut of the film does little more than pad the film and provide a few added novelties to viewers who have already seen the film several times, Big has held up to this day as a brilliantly-conceived, funny, and sweet fantasy comedy. Much of the film's enduring
Movie Grade: A+
DVD Features Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A+