But there's a colossal difference between this film and all of my other childhood favorites... Over 10 years later, only BIG still carries the exact same appeal as it did when I was 6. It's one of those very rare movies that perfectly bridges the age gap, allowing kids and adults alike to enjoy it in their own way. Because really, all kids are curious what it's like to be an adult; yet, at the same time, most adults wish they could travel back to their youths. It may be a simple concept, but it's one that this movie handles beautifully.
There's a hint of genius in the writing that becomes evident through how perfectly the protagonist's journey unfolds. Whether it's the playing of "Chopsticks" on the giant piano with Robert Loggia or hopping on the trampoline with Elizabeth Perkins, every scene is just a joy to watch. The film covers the best aspects of what's it like to be a kid, and then combines them with the advantages we have in the adult world. (Who hasn't at one point wished they could have a soda machine and arcade games in their room?)
The true driving force behind the film, however, is Tom Hanks. The way in which he captures the innocence of a child is both heartfelt and hilarious. Without his endearing performance, almost all of the movie's charm would be lost. Because while the direction, screenplay, and music are all superb in execution, it's Tom Hanks that gives the movie its soul.
Not only does BIG feature Hanks in what is quite possibly his finest role (or at least his most entertaining), it's also the only movie to actually make good on the body-switching premise. Considering how many of those movies there are like that (FREAKY FRIDAY, 13 GOING ON 30, VICE VERSA, LIKE FATHER LIKE SON, etc.), I'd say that's a pretty impressive feat.
NOTE: If you're wondering what's new to the extended edition, head on over to the extras section.
- Josh's little sister is moved into his room.
- Billy (Josh's best friend) gets an important bit of development in this scene featuring his unpleasant home life.
- Josh's mom explains the "kidnapping" to the cops.
- Early on, Susan (Elizabeth Perkins) is revealed as being much more hostile.
- Josh calls home under the guise of a telemarketer to find out how to deal with a stomachache. (This scene is wonderful, and shouldn't have been cut to begin with.)
- A more detailed look at how Josh chose his funny-looking suit, as he goes tuxedo shopping with Billy.
- Josh discusses toys and women with his boss (Robert Loggia).
- Susan's evolution as a person (after being with Josh) is given some extra attention.
- Josh and Susan play with a musical toy prototype. Cute.
- Billy calls around and finds out the location of the Zoltar machine.
- Susan finds more evidence that Josh is telling the truth after finding the Zoltar card in his wallet.
Audio Documentary (with producer Peter Ventrella, and writers Amy Spielberg and Gary Ross): This is a pretty cool twist on the standard audio commentary. It switches between the expected bits of discussion with its participants alongside previously taped cassette recordings. What makes the recordings cool is that they're from the original 2-hour brainstorming session between the two writers, as they quickly came up with varying ideas that would eventually turn into the script for BIG.
Big Beginnings (16:28): A retrospective featurette that has the writers discussing their experiences working together, and the producer detailing the surprise of movie's success.
Chemistry of a Classic (23:45): The cast and crew (minus Hanks) join in to look back on the film.
The Work of Play (9:52): I understand that the movie deals with working at a toy company, but this extra is pointless. It details the real-life work of company executives and designers in the toy world.
Hollywood Backstories (21:15): This 2001 AMC special is basically a retread of information already discussed. It basically acts as a mini-documentary for the film.
Carnival Party Newswrap (0:93): A quick promotional glimpse at the BIG premiere.
Deleted Scenes (15:10): These scenes (coupled with director Penny Marshall's needless intros) are compiled of nothing other than the more prominent bits from the extended cut.
Also included are 2 Trailers, 2 TV Spots, and 5 Previews.