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Through a carnival wishing machine, a 12-year-old boy is transferred into the body of a 30-year-old man.
For more about Big and the Big Blu-ray release, see Big Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 21, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Penny Marshall
Writers: Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Jared Rushton, David Moscow
» See full cast & crew
Big Blu-ray Review
'Big' is better than ever on Blu-ray
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 21, 2009
I wish I were big.
It is the kid at heart inside everyone that represents the audience that will most appreciate Tom Hanks' wonderful Big, the story of a boy instantly transformed into a man and his struggles with all of the responsibilities and emotions that mark that stage in life. Big tells the story of an individual seen through the eyes of others as a grown man but who watches the world go by with the understanding of a young boy. His wonder at the suddenly faster, more complicated world around him and his adolescent thought processes serve him well in every endeavor, the film stating that it is perception, not age; heart, not ability; and passion, not facts and figures; that drive success at any task. A reminder to all who watch on the importance of remaining forever young not necessarily in physical age but rather in heart, mind, and spirit, Big remains one of the more charming pictures of the past several decades, its uncanny ability to comment on some of life's most challenging problems from the perspective of a mind untarnished by the daily grind of life as an adult makes for compelling drama, plenty of humor, and touching situations that all come together to make Big a wonderful film for all ages.
Thirteen-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) is a typical American boy. He loves baseball, hangs out with his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) and is just discovering an attraction to girls. When Josh is rejected by the girl he has is eye on for an older boy with a car, and is further humiliated when he is too short to board a ride at the amusement park, Josh wishes for nothing more than to be big. His wish is granted by a mysterious carnival quarter-eater called Zoltar, and indeed, 13-year-old Josh awakens the following morning in the body of a 30-year-old man (Tom Hanks, Cast Away), an older, bigger version of himself. Chased out of the house by a frightened mother, Josh turns to Billy for help. They decide to track down the Zoltar machine in hopes of reversing the wish, but the carnival has packed up and left town, their only way of discovering its new location through the city will require a six-week waiting period thanks to a mountain of bureaucratic red tape that slows the process considerably.
Josh finds himself stuck in a body and, more importantly, a world he doesn't understand. He deals with a worried mother by feigning a kidnapping, his adult voice standing in for the perpetrators, his only source of money Billy's father's emergency stash. After a rough first night in a less-than-hospitable New York hotel, Billy and Josh begin searching for a job that Josh could perform, something to fill both his time and his pockets. They stumble across a help wanted ad for MacMillan Toys, and Josh lands a job as a data entry worker. An accidental run-in with Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia) leads to a major promotion for Josh, his new job allowing him to evaluate toys through extensive playtime and rigorous handling. Josh's amazing advancement stuns longtime employee Paul (John Heard, Home Alone), while Josh's easygoing and childlike demeanor catch the eye of another co-worker, Susan (Elizabeth Perkins), brewing Josh's first romance. Will Josh's foray into the adult world change him forever, leading him to abandon his childhood friends and desires, or will he come to realize that, despite his success as an adult, he belongs elsewhere?
The opening minutes of Big may seem a bit disconcerting; the film spends precious little time developing a young Josh Baskin, but it doesn't really need to. Tom Hanks secures the role from David Moscow and plays the same character, the only difference their physical statures. Hanks embraces the role as he always does, but with a twinkle in his eye and a performance that, for most any actor, would be one to define a career. Hanks has gone on to star in a variety of fantastic pictures, but Big might represent him at his most versatile, the Oscar-winning actor displaying a marvelous range as he copes with the realities of adulthood but from the perspective of a child. The raw emotion of his first night alone in the sleazy, run-down St. James hotel in New York City, cowering in his bed, calling for his mother, and breaking down into an agonizing display of utter hopelessness as screams and gunshots ring out below his room and an angry telephone conversation plays out from beyond his door is apt to bring audiences to tears, too, the genuine appearance of fear and uncertainty appearing as real here as one might expect of any traumatic true-life scenario. As the film moves on, Hanks continues with the classic performance, playing the role with an infectious enthusiasm for the material and truly capturing the essence of a child suddenly absorbed into the adult world. Whether the film's lightest moments or its most dramatic, Hanks' effort in Big is worthy of the Oscar nomination it garnered. Hanks is supported by several strong performances from Jared Rushton, John Heard, and veteran character actor Robert Loggia.
Big Blu-ray, Video Quality
Big matures to Blu-ray with a nice looking 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer. The most noticeable trait the transfer has to offer is its above-average color reproduction; the film features a broad spectrum of colors and never do they disappoint. Whether Josh's red Dukes baseball jacket or the green dinosaur in his loft, each hue -- bold and bland alike -- are rendered nicely on this release. Detail, too, suffices throughout. In addition to a rather good sense of depth to the image, the transfer reproduces each small detail in every frame nicely. Whether the run-down interior of the shady St. James hotel or the plush furnishings seen throughout MacMillan Toys, objects are presented with a satisfactory texture and level of visible detail. The transfer also features a noticeable but not overbearing amount of film grain, but very bright backgrounds feature a bit of noise. Blacks are adequately rendered and flesh tones range from solid to a shade of pink in some instances. On the whole, however, Big looks just fine, the transfer not as crisp and lifelike as the best the format has to offer but plenty good for a 1980s comedy.
Big Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Big graduates to Blu-ray and features a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. This offering features plenty of room-filling activity from each speaker in the system, the entire soundstage filled with the dynamic sounds of the carnival early in the film, for instance. Neither terribly clear nor completely undefined, most every sequence features plenty of fascinating and distinct sounds spread all around the soundstage. Other sound effects -- screams and a gunshot outside Josh's sleazy New York hotel room, for example -- deliver a believable presence that, combined with Hank's great performance, makes for one of the best scenes in the film. Also impressive are a few scenes that offer a fairly deep, rumbling low; a ride on a roller coaster rattles and shakes the listening area to fine effect. The track also reveals more subdued sounds that seemed lost in the shuffle in previous home video versions, for instance chatter amongst background onlookers at FAO Schwarz as Josh and MacMillan play on the big keyboard. Supported by good dialogue reproduction, Big delivers a soundtrack that never disappoints in the context of the movie.
Big Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Big grows up on Blu-ray with several supplements, including two editions of the film, a 104-minute theatrical cut and a 130-minute extended cut. As to the bonus features, the package is headlined by 'Big Brainstorming' -- An Audio Documentary by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg. Joined by Pete Ventrella, the piece begins as a standard commentary track but quickly moves to a collection of audio recordings featuring the writers brainstorming the idea for Big prior to writing the actual script. An interesting piece and a nice departure from the usual onslaught of standard-fare commentary tracks, fans of the movie and any Blu-ray fan in search of something different from their bonus materials should give this feature a listen. Also included in this package is a collection of eight deleted scenes (480p, 15:03) with optional introductions from Director Penny Marhsall on several.
'Big' Beginnings (480p, 16:29) is next, a piece once again featuring writers Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg, and later, Producer James Brooks discussing the origins of the picture and how it came together. Chemistry of a Classic (480p, 23:47) features cast and crew recalling their experiences, discussing why Big remains a great movie today, and how the movie came together with the combined talent of all involved elevating the film to nearly unparalleled heights. The Work of Play (480p, 9:54) features a collection of people who actually play with toys for a living discussing their jobs, which includes brainstorming ideas, testing products, and manufacturing. Hollywood Backstory: 'Big' (480p, 21:16) examines the story behind the movie, looking at a broad range of topics, from the film's origins, the choice of director, the work of Tom Hanks, the film's themes, its popularity, and much more. Next is Carnival Party Newswrap (480p, 1:33), a brief look at the film's premier. Concluding the supplements are two theatrical trailers (480p, 1:16 & 2:25) and two TV spots (480p, 0:32 each) for Big.
Big Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Much like Josh Baskin, Big may age in years but certainly not in spirit, the film as charismatic, thought-provoking, and touching today as it was the day it was released. A timeless tale of the meaninglessness of the passage of time and the importance of youthful exuberance, a gentle approach to life's most challenging problems and situations, and a healthy amount of fun along the way, Big represents cinema at its most magical. The film recalls the easier, more innocent years of childhood, but more importantly, conveys the message that the passage of time or the structure of the adult world need not blur or erase those child-like thought processes that can define the very essence of every individual that chooses to keep them at the forefront of their lives. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release of Big does the film justice. Featuring above-average technical presentations and a few bonus materials, both longtime fans of the film and newcomers alike should not hesitate to make Big a permanent addition to the Blu-ray collection. Highly recommended.
Big: Other Editions
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Big Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Big; Something About Mary Get Confirmed - January 30, 2009
In an early announcement to retailers, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has confirmed that they will bring 'Big: Extended Edition' and 'There's Something About Mary' to Blu-ray on May 5th. Video for both of these titles will be presented in 1080p AVC accompanied ...
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