Promotional film poster
Film information

Directed by

Penny Marshall

Produced by

James L. Brooks
Robert Greenhut

Written by

Gary Ross
Anne Spielberg


Tom Hanks
Elizabeth Perkins
Robert Loggia
John Heard

Music by

Howard Shore


Barry Sonnenfeld


Gracie Films

Distributed by

20th Century Fox




$18 million

Gross Revenue


Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as 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, John Heard, and Robert Loggia and was written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg.

Big was the latest, and most successful, of a series of age-changing comedies produced in the late 1980s, the others being: Like Father Like Son (1987), 18 Again! (1988), Vice Versa (1988), and the Italian film Da grande (1987).[2]


Josh Baskin (David Moscow) is a 12-year-old living in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, who, after being told he is too short for a carnival ride while attempting to impress an older girl (Kimberlee M. Davis), puts a coin into an unusual antique arcade fortune teller machine called Zoltar Speaks, and makes a wish to be "big." After the machine dispenses a card stating "Your wish has been granted," Josh discovers that the machine is unplugged and continues to operate despite a lack of power.

However, the next morning Josh is shocked to discover that he has been transformed into a 30-year-old man (Tom Hanks), and when he goes back to the plaza with the fortune teller machine, he finds that the carnival, as well as the machine, has moved on. Fleeing from his mother (Mercedes Ruehl), who thinks he is a stranger who has kidnapped her son, Josh then finds his best friend, Billy Kopecki (Jared Rushton), at the school they both attend; Billy is shocked at first, but Josh convinces him of his identity by singing a secret song that only the two of them know. With Billy's help, he learns that it would take a couple of months to find the Zoltar Speaks machine, so Josh rents a flophouse room in New York City and obtains a job as a data entry clerk at MacMillan Toy Company.

By chance, Josh runs into the company's owner, Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia), at FAO Schwarz, and impresses him with both his extensive insight into current toys and his happy-go-lucky childlike enthusiasm. The two end up playing a duet together on a foot-operated electronic keyboard, performing "Heart and Soul" and "Chopsticks." This earns Josh a promotion to a dream job: testing toys all day long and getting paid for it. With his promotion, Josh's larger salary enables him to move out of the working man's hotel and into a spacious apartment, which he and Billy fill with toys, their own Pepsi vending machine and a pinball machine. Josh soon attracts the attention of Susan Lawrence (Elizabeth Perkins), a fellow McMillan executive. A romance begins to develop, much to the annoyance of Susan's competitive boyfriend, Paul Davenport (John Heard). Josh becomes increasingly entwined in his "adult" life by spending more time with Susan, mingling with her friends and moving in with her. His new ideas become valuable assets to MacMillan Toys; however, after celebrating Josh's 13th birthday with him, Billy notices a change in Josh and begins to feel annoyed and neglected, suspecting that Josh has forgotten who he really is.

MacMillan asks Josh to come up with proposals for a new line of toys. Josh is intimidated by the need to formulate the business aspects of such a proposal, and Susan insists that she will handle the business end; that Josh need only rely on his affinity for toys to come up with a good idea. Nonetheless, Josh soon begins to feel overly pressured by this new 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 in frustration.

Longing to return to the life of a child, Josh eventually learns from Billy that the Zoltar Speaks machine is now at Sea Point Park. In the middle of presenting their proposal to MacMillan and other executives, Josh leaves. After Susan realizes something is wrong, she also leaves and encounters Billy, who tells her where Josh went. At the park, Josh finds the machine and makes a wish to become "a kid again." He is then confronted by Susan, who, seeing the machine and the fortune it gave Josh, realizes he was telling the truth. Susan becomes despondent at realizing their relationship is over. Josh tells Susan she was the one thing about his adult life he wishes would not end, and suggests she use the machine to turn herself into a little girl. She declines, indicating that being a child once was enough, and takes Josh home. After sharing an emotional goodbye, Josh, now 13, reverts to his child form and is reunited with his family.



Big was received with almost unanimous critical acclaim; based on 53 reviews collected by the film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, 96% of critics gave the film a positive "Certified Fresh" review and the consensus stating "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."[3] 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."[4]

Big was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks) and Best Writing, Original Screenplay.

The film is number 23 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies. In 2000, Big was ranked 42nd on the American Film Institute's "100 Years…100 Laughs" list.[5] In June 2008, AFI named Big as the tenth-best film in the fantasy genre.[6] In 2008, Big was selected by Empire Magazine as one of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time."[7]

American Film Institute Lists

Box OfficeEdit

Big opened #2 with $8.2 million its first weekend. [11] It would end up grossing over $151 million ($116 million USA, $36 million international).[12] It was the first feature film directed by a woman to gross over $100 million.

Extended cutEdit

The film was re-released in 2007 in a 2-disc Extended Edition DVD. The DVD features the theatrical (104 minutes) and extended (130 minutes) versions of the film on the first disc. The second disc contains deleted scenes, featurettes, an AMC Backstory, and trailers and TV spots.

Broadway musicalEdit

Main article: Big: the musical

In 1996, Big 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.

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  1. "Big (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  2. Harmetz, Aljean (January 15, 1990). "The Media Business; Buchwald Ruling: Film Writers vs. Star Power". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  3. "Big (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 16, 2011. 
  4. Maslin, Janet (June 3, 1988). "Review/Film; Tom Hanks as a 13-Year-Old, in 'Big'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  5. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs". American Film Institute. 2000. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  6. "10 Top 10: Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. 2008. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  7. "Empire's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time". 2006-12-05. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  8. AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
  9. AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
  10. AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot

External linksEdit

Template:Penny Marshall

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