By Erin Tobin
By Erin Tobin
“Big” is the story of a 13-year-old boy becoming a man.
In 1988, Joshua Baskin, played by a very young looking David Moscow (from “Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane”), starts off as an ordinary preteen. He and his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”) are trapped between childhood and the life of adults. They want to drink alcohol and kiss girls, but they still think action figures, silly string and an inflatable Godzilla are cool.
All right, so there are some 35-year-olds in the world still in this predicament, but Baskin’s story is different.
After being shot down by the hottest girl on the block at a county fair, Baskin loses a fight with a young teenaged boy’s great fear; the dreaded height requirement sign.
Attempting to find solace, Baskin comes across an ancient fortune-telling machine called “Zoltar” and makes a simple wish to become “big.”
What followed was a bit of mastery in the art of subtle comedy.
Now, perhaps all the kid wanted was to grow a few inches, but the next morning he finds himself as an almost-30 Tom Hanks.
That’s right, not only can Hanks play a toy, but he can handle a role as an adult who plays with toys.
Moscow did a good job, but how challenging could it be for a 13-year-old to play a 13 year old. The real acting magic is shown as Hanks pulls off a very convincing child trapped in an adult’s body.
Baskin’s mother thinks the old man in her son’s bed is an intruder and kicks him out of the house. Aided by Billy, he heads to New York only to discover it will take six weeks to locate a “Zoltar.” So, Baskin gets an apartment and a job working with the only two things he has any idea about: computers and toys. He also gets a girlfriend.
Hanks captures the characteristics of a child’s view of adult life and wonder is something that most actors fail at achieving. His performance is not all silly and playful; there are also moments where the audience can feel Baskin’s loneliness and fear of living in a world without the support of his mother.
Hanks also showed he can dance, sort of. “Big” contains that classic scene of Hanks and his character’s boss performing a choreographed routine of “Heart and Soul” and “Chopsticks” on the giant floor piano in a toy store. It is quite possible that some young boys actually enjoyed piano lessons a little more after that scene aired.
Hanks doesn’t dominate the movie, though. In fact there is plenty of space left for the other actors to shine through.
A prime example is Elizabeth Perkins, who played the “big Baskin’s” girlfriend, Susan. Perkins makes the transitions between Susan’s feelings for Baskin smooth and believable.
It is believable because Perkins has fun exploring the world of children. The same can be said of Baskin’s boy, McMillian, who is played by Robert Loggia.
“Big” is a classic story about the reason children shouldn’t rush to grow up. It’s been re-done a number of times, lately Jennifer Garner’s “13 Going on 30.” This movie is another crowning achievement for Hanks and another glowing testament to his versatility as an actor. The man can talk to volleyballs, compare life to sweets, head to the moon and capture the innocence of a boy dealing with the adult world.