Featured Blu-ray Review: Big: 25th Anniversary Edition
Big hits the home market this week with a 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray. Or if you want to be snarky, you could call it a 4th Anniversary Edition of the 2009 Blu-ray release. Is there anything new this time around? No. That said, if you didn't grab the Blu-ray the first time around, is the 25th Anniversary Edition worth it?
We meet Josh, a typical 13-year old boy. His best friend is Billy, is another typical 13-year old boy. Maybe too typical, given what he says about his teacher. Josh has a crush on Cynthia and Billy encourages him. However, while at a traveling carnival, Josh's attempts to impress Cynthia backfire when he tries to go on a thrill ride to prove how mature he is, only to be turned away because he's too short. Dejected, he heads elsewhere in the carnival and comes across a fortune telling machine, Zoltar Speaks. After putting in a quarter and finally getting the machine to work, he wishes he were big. It spits out a card that says his wish is granted. It is at this time Josh realizes the machine is not even plugged in.
The next morning when Josh wakes up, he's big. He's not just tall for his age, he's a fully-grown man. When he realizes what's going on, he freaks out a bit. He manages to sneak out of the house without his mom seeing him and rides to the carnival, hoping to reverse his wish, but it's not there anymore. When he returns home and his mom sees him, she really freaks out, understandably so. While her son knows what happened, she thinks he's some man who has come into her home and possibly kidnapped her son. (He tries to prove he's Josh by telling her things only Josh would know, which in the real world makes it sound like he's stalking her son.) Next, he tries to talk to Billy, who also freaks out. This time, however, he's able to convince Billy of the truth by singing a song they wrote together. Getting one person to believe him is only the beginning. They have to find the Zoltar Speaks machine, but first Josh is going to need a place to stay.
The first night is really scary for Josh, but the next day he and Billy start their search for Zoltar. It's going to take a while. It will take six weeks just to get a list of all carnivals and fairs and in the meantime, Josh is going to get a job. There's not much he's qualified for, but there's an ad in the paper for a Computer Operator at MacMillan Toys. This he can do. The interview is not going great, but that's when Susan Lawrence comes storming in. Her assistant got engaged and since then she's done no work. Since they need someone who can start right away, Josh is hired.
One Saturday, Josh spends some time at the toy store, FAO Schwarz, he bumps into his boss, MacMillan, who comes there to see what costumers check out the most. They get to talking. Josh has a lot of good insights, because he's still just a child. While talking, Josh walks over to the giant piano and after a bit of goofing around, Josh and MacMillan play it together. The pair bond and as a result, Josh is made Vice President of Toy Development. This comes with a big raise, a big office, and some unwanted attention. Susan Lawrence discusses him with her boyfriend, Paul Davenport. Davenport is convinced there's something up with Josh, that he's a plant from another company perhaps. At first Susan thinks something is wrong as well, then she starts to warm up to Josh.
It looks like Josh's life as an adult is going pretty well, but you know it can't last.
While watching Big, I kept thinking of Overboard. I mentioned in my review that there are parts of that movie that are pretty cringe-inducing when you think about it too much, or at all really. This is true here as well. In Big, there is a romance between Josh and Susan, and since Josh is technically a 13-year old boy at the time, this is creepy. I know Josh looks like an adult, but the reason we have statutory rape laws is not because 13-year olds are not physically developed enough, it's that they are not emotionally developed enough. Josh is emotionally 13 years old, but Susan still falls for him. Granted, if I were to meet someone who was like Josh, I would think "young at heart", not 13-year old stuck in an adults body, so I don't blame her character. (Although there is something called precocious puberty where kids younger than 8 enter puberty. But the results are not like this.)
Despite that issue, Big is still a great movie. There were a lot of age-changing Body Swap movies to come out around the same time, but this is the only one that was truly great. Much of the credit for that goes to Tom Hanks. There are not many actors who could play a kid trapped in an adults body and still make the character seem believable as opposed to a childish adult, or a caricature. While the setup is pure fantasy, the acting and the writing are so strong that it is easy to believe a kid could have the right attitude to thrive in a company that makes toys. The transition from kid who is terrified of being on his own, to one who is learning to adjust and finally thrives as an adult is very natural. The film has a huge amount of charm and it is as funny as it is emotional.
... Just don't think about the premise too much.
Like I said at the top, this is the 2009 edition with a new package. (The package does come with a trio of cards from the Zoltar Speaks machine.) There are two versions of the movie, the extended version running about 20 minutes longer. There is an audio commentary track, but only on the theatrical cut. There are a trio of featurettes dealing with the origins of the story (Big Beginnings); the making of the movie (Chemistry of a Classic); and the real life working in a toy company (The Work of Play). There is a TV special from 2001 about the movie. Finally, there are eight deleted scenes, including a few with introductions by Penny Marshall.
The technical presentation of the movie is average, nothing more. There is grain here and there, some shots are a little soft, the colors are not vivid, etc. It was never a visually flashy movie, so you can't expect the Blu-ray to look better than the source material. Likewise, the audio is clear, but uncomplicated.
The price of the Blu-ray is $13, which is a good price for this type of release.
Big is absolutely worth picking up, but if you have the film on Blu-ray already, then there's no point in buying the 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray. But if you don't have it on high definition yet, now's the time to grab it.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2013-12-09