Saturday, 5 February 2011

80s Movies: Big (1988)

Big is another genuinely iconic 80s movie - there are quite a few of those out there. It's perfect for kids and grown-ups alike, because to be honest, the young ones probably wish they had the money and the control of their lives that Josh Baskin (a breakthrough role for the young David Moscow) has as a grown-up, and the older ones probably wish they could revisit their childhood and bring back some of the innocence that Tom Hanks (Sleepless in Seattle, Cast Away) brings to the character.

Robert Loggia is a star as Baskin's boss MacMillan, Elizabeth Perkins is adorable as love interest Susan Lawrence, Mercedes Ruehl puts in an under-appreciated performance as Baskin's mum and, of course, Jared Rushton as best friend Billy Kopeke helps to make the whole thing believable and serves as a visual reminder that Hanks's character is, after all, only 13.

The Plot

It's a simple concept, but a complex movie - Tom Hanks gets every kid's dream of being a grown-up for a while. But rather than indulge in that fact and give itself over to whimsy, Big keeps things real.

That means the realities of basically losing your mum as a 13-year-old boy, of needing to find a job, of falling in love - and knowing you'll have to lose that to go back to your old life. It's all light-hearted, of course, which helps to keep things fun even in the more serious moments.

I suppose the thing that's kept Big relevant after 23 years is that it raises the question in the viewer - how would I cope? How would I react? What would I do?

The Soundtrack

It's testament to the quality of Big's storyline and performances that the music, for once, really is background noise. Howard Shore provides the original compositions, while songs from Billy Idol and Huey Lewis & the News add a distinctly 80s touch for the nostalgia addicts.

Probably the best-known piece of music from the whole film is Chopsticks, thanks to the toy shop piano scene. I won't go into too much detail - it's been mentioned more than a few times elsewhere - but I couldn't write about Big without at least mentioning it. As well as being a great, iconic scene, Hanks and Loggia prove that massive floor pianos really can be musical instruments and not just novelties.

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

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