Big

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
Big Movie Poster Image
Wonderful story with some very mature material.
  • PG
  • 1988
  • 104 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 54 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While the content gets a bit racy, the message of appreciating childhood while you're a child -- but also never losing the childish ability to find the fun and wonder in everyday life once you grow up -- is an important one. Characters learn and demonstrate integrity and empathy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Josh learns why it's better to enjoy childhood than it is to rush into being a grown-up. His perspective helps those around him rediscover their own happiness. Susan starts out as cold and businesslike but eventually remembers why fun and joy matter.

Violence

Two men fight; the result is a bloody nose. A gunshot.

Sex

Some innuendo; breast discussion. Momentary brassiere exposure with hands-on inspection. Some kissing.

Language

"S--t," "damn," "bastard," "hell," "a--hole"; "f--k" is used once.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Susan smokes frequently; adult characters (including Josh in his adult appearance) drink.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that of if Big were released today, it would almost certainly earn a PG-13 rating. There's some strong language (including one use of "f--k") and some sexual situations (including a man fondling a woman's breast). There's also some drinking, smoking, and mild violence. A child forced to grow up too quickly is exposed to corporate life, sex, and other adult matters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15 year old Written byTsion July 28, 2010

What were they thinking?

The only reason I watched BIG in the first place is because it was marketed as a family classic by countless people, including Common Sense. In this case, ever... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 and 13 year old Written byBibliomaniac Mom September 12, 2009

Hilarity laced with adult situations

Great 80's movie, but I'd forgotten about the language and sexuality. I watched this recently with my 12 and 13 year olds, and they got to watch Tom H... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byiNSPiRED February 20, 2011

Ugh!

I was extremely disgusted when the main character watched his girlfriend take off her shirt, and turned off the bedroom light. Before that scene, a few suggest... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 30, 2009

What's the story?

Fed up with being little, 12-year-old Josh Baskin makes a wish to be BIG at a fair's mechanical swami booth and wakes the following morning in a grown man's body. Mortified at what he's done, he flees across the bridge to New York City with his friend Billy to track down the fair and wish himself back to normal. In New York, Josh (Tom Hanks) stumbles into a computer operator job at MacMillan Toys. His insightfulness gets him promoted overnight and draws the attention of an uptight female executive (Elizabeth Perkins). As their relationship develops, Josh begins to mature and settle into his adult skin. It takes Billy, and thoughts of his mother, who thinks her son has been kidnapped, to give Josh the courage to approach the mechanical Zoltar booth again and whisper, "I wish I was small.'"

Is it any good?

This movie is surprisingly heartwarming and humorous. There aren't very many funny movies about people who get magically transplanted into somebody else's body; the premise is a stale one by now, having shouldered more beatings under Hollywood's bullwhip than the proverbial dead horse. Prelude to a Kiss is one exception. Another is Big. Both do something intelligent and inventive with that premise, and both are grounded by strong, earnest performances that make the incredible seem credible. Tom Hanks, who would go on a few years later to win back-to-back Oscars for Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994), delivers such a performance here. The scene in which he spends a night alone in a seedy New York motel, fidgeting until he breaks into tears, makes his situation gut-wrenchingly believable. He's not merely imitating the mannerisms of an awkward 12-year-old. There's a profound innocence about him -- that innocence makes him both vulnerable and irresistibly charming.

There are other fine performances here as well. David Moscow, playing the young Josh Baskin, is a terrific counterpart for Hanks. Jared Rushton adds a shake of pepper to the role of his friend Billy, and Elizabeth Perkins looks appropriately bewildered by it all as the reluctant love interest. Penny Marshall directs with an uncharacteristically subdued hand, employing no camera tricks or overblown music here. She lets the performers and the sharp script do the speaking, and gives us something larger than comedy. She gives us something to think about.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Josh's experiences as an adult in Big. Why does he want to be big, and why does he ultimately decide he wants to be small?

  • If you could be any age, which age would you pick? Why?

  • What are the best things about being a kid? What are the advantages to being an adult?

  • How do the characters in Big demonstrate integrity and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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