Viewing BIG as a parent is an interesting experience, and it was that first run through last year that really made a big impact on me.
1988's BIG Re-Revisited for the 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray Release...Written by James Zahn
There's a slight possibility that this post may inspire a bit of deja vu for you, on the odd chance that you happened to have been reading The Rock Father back on March 12, 2012. It was then, while nursing a brief back injury (cue PANTERA's I'm Broken), that I sat down on a Friday night to discuss a then-24 year old movie, 1988's Penny Marshall-directed classic, BIG. The timing just worked out right at the time, and somehow BIG became the first live-action movie to really hold Addie's attention after I found it "On-Demand," despite already owning the DVD. BIG is one of those movies that I've owned over and over again, having first bought it on VHS, then on DVD, and now on 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray thanks to the folks at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Just as METALLICA "Re-Revisited" their "Garage Days," I'm "Re-Revisiting" my look back on BIG. Through the eyes of a parent... who was once a kid... and still acts like one on regular occasions.
While BIG is rated PG and not necessarily "age appropriate" for young kids, there's still a lot there to capture their attention. I'm sure my daughters (now plural) notice a lot of similarities between Tom Hanks as the "big" version of young Josh Baskin and myself - a grown man surrounded by toys, and certainly having no problem playing with them all. The famous FAO SCHWARZ piano scene is of instant appeal, immediately provoking the little ones to compare the on-screen floor piano to their little FIRST ACT Piano. Cute as those moments are, I still cringe a little bit when a few naughty words make their way into the mix - especially when Baskin's buddy Billy blurts out the "F-word." My girls can offer instant playback at times, but fortunately not during BIG.
Another noticeable feature of BIG that I'd long overlooked is how much Elizabeth Perkins' Susan character smokes. As I approach three years smoke-free myself (which I've been writing about on yearly anniversaries) I'm trying to keep the influence away from my offspring (which I've also written about), and while the 80's were a notoriously different time, it's remarkable how much the smoking plays into the film. It's just there all the time. In the office - at a party - at the breakfast table - there's even a moment where James Eckhouse (best-known as Jim Walsh on BEVERLY HILLS 90210) pops up for a scene and asks Hanks if he smokes, followed by a quick run-down of where it's allowed in their office.
Beyond those surface issues, it's interesting to ponder just how BIG would be different if it was made today. In fact, it could be remade as a terrifying thriller, or you could do a parallel story as a crime drama following the painful ordeal of Mrs. Baskin (Mercedes Ruehl) in the wake of her son's assumed abduction. I've always been a little miffed that there's really no time spent on showing how easily a 12-year-old just disappears while his best friend (who should be the person the cops are looking at the most) is able to travel back and forth to New York City to hang out with a mysterious grown man who seemingly just appeared. And of course it never occurred to Susan that the "MISSING" kid on her carton of milk just happened to have the same name as the guy she was falling for at work. Though we only saw the carton in one scene at the breakfast table, you'd think she would've noticed at least once while purchasing it or getting it in and out of the fridge. Or why weren't there police sketches of Hanks plastered all over town, seeing as the "big" Baskin did confront his mother?
Then there's also the weird implications of a 12-year-old having sexual relations with a woman in the 30-range (something else that was "big?)...
But then again, this is a movie based upon the premise that a coin-operated game at a carnival can grant mystical wishes to children.
Over-analyzing a beloved family film that was nominated for two Academy Awards? Probably. But it's still interesting how you start to see things differently once you've become a parent yourself, and despite those new found quirks, BIG will forever be a classic, and one that I'll continue popping on a couple of times a year.
The 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray (order from Amazon) looks fantastic, and includes a DVD copy as well, along with all of the same extras that are included on my earlier "Extended Edition" DVD, and yes, that includes the extended edition itself. But the really cool feature? It's the usually pointless cardboard O-Card that wraps the whole thing. Open it up, and here you have a little "Heart and Soul."
No matter how you package it, BIG is always going to be a five-star film, and here it gets a five-star release in high-definition for the very first time.
The Rock Father Rating: 5/5 Stars
James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade as Publisher of The Rock Father Magazine, he joined Adventure Publishing Group as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider—a destination for all things pop culture. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 25 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.
He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.
Learn more here.