Big (1988) [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Comedy / Fantasy|
|Fox || PG - 130 minutes - $34.98 || May 12, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-30|
Writer(s): Gary Ross & Anne Spielberg (written by)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard
Theatrical Release Date: June 3, 1988
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Plot: All twelve-year-old Josh Baskin wants is to be big. But when his wish is granted beyond his wildest dreams, Josh finds a new face in the mirror... his own, at age 30. Now, aided only by his boisterous best friend, he’ll have to keep the secret of his true age as he tries to fill his own oversized shoes. But as his innocent charm help him rise to the top of the adult world, Josh will face the biggest decision of his life – return to his own age, or remain big forever.
Every kid always imagines what it would be like to be an adult and wish they could grow up quicker... of course once they grow up, at least a small part of them wish they could go back to their childhood days. Big examines the mindset of a young soon-to-be teenager as he takes notice of the opposite sex and propels him into a cynical and cutthroat adult world.
Not only is Big a funny movie but it’s also notable for a great performance by Tom Hanks who by 1988 was known for light-hearted comedies like Splash, Bachelor Party and The Money Pit (and even after ’88, he still had Joe Versus the Volcano), so from 1984 through 1990, Tom Hanks was coming into his own and it probably was Big that showcased what we would later see in Apollo 13, Philadelphia and Saving Private Ryan.
Nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, Tom Hanks gives an absolutely charming performance that very few even gifted actors could achieve. Watching the film for the first time in many years, I not only noticed how great Hanks was but how well mapped out the character development from writers Gary Ross (the man behind the semi-underrated Dave) and Anne Spielberg.
Of course, Big wasn’t exactly a new idea as so many other movies of the late 80s dealt with the whole body-swapping (18 Again, Vice Versa, etc) but it probably was the most well done of them all. Although I’m sure the others had good intentions, Big just felt real even through the unexplained fantasy elements (kind of like Groundhog Day, it just “happened”, no need for some long explanation).
Also of note are some solid performances from Elizabeth Perkins and, especially, Robert Loggia who is a part of one of the most iconic 80s scenes as he and Hanks dance on a large keyboard performing “Heart and Soul” and “Chopsticks”.
All features have been ported over from the 2007 DVD release including the extended cut, which is 26-minutes longer than the theatrical version (also included). The only difference is now everything is on one disc versus two on the DVD.
First up, is an audio documentary with writers Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg and also feature tape recordings of their initial ideas. There’s some commentary about the writing but there’s quite a bit of recordings so this may not be the best track for fans of commentaries.
Next up are 5 featurettes which I will quickly rundown for you: Big Beginnings (16:30) where the aforementioned writers talk about the origins of the project and later joined by producer James L. Brooks; Chemistry of a Classic (23:45) goes over bringing the pieces together from the director to the brilliant casting of Tom Hanks; The Work of Play (9:54) is about the toy business intertwined with footage from the movie; AMC Backstory: Big (21:15) and Carnival Party Newswrap (1:33) are just some basic older (well, the AMC one was probably filmed for the initial DVD release) promotional features.
Deleted Scenes (13:42) – There are eight scenes here, most if not all were included with the extended cut. Most of the scenes are fine but admittedly the one dealing with the best friend’s home life was not needed. I did like the scene between Robert Loggia and Tom Hanks was good. Some are available with optional commentary from Penny Marshall.
Lastly the theatrical trailers and TV spots were also included.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
I’m all for giving ‘older’ films the high-def treatment, but rarely are they worth the upgrade over sometimes an already respectable special edition DVD. Unfortunately as great a film that Big is, I’m not sure if it’s worth buying if you already own the “extended edition” on DVD. The movie is presented in 1080p high-def with its original 1.85 aspect ratio and while the video isn’t bad to look at, detail levels are not the greatest as some shot seem a bit fuzzy.
The audio is a little worse for the wear. Even though Fox does provide a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, it’s not the greatest sounding track I’ve heard and when watching the extended version, it’s also uneven. But even when watching the original version, I wasn’t that impressed with various things from dialogue levels to ambient noises. That being said, dialogue is clear enough so you won't have to strain your ears to hear anything, just nothing outstanding.
Despite this being just another quick catalogue release, Big is still a film worth owning even on Blu-ray, especially if you don’t already own the “extended edition” DVD release. Now, since that DVD can be had for less than $10, is the premium worth it? Well, the picture is a slight improvement over its SD counterpart but I was disappointed with the audio. I’d say if you can find the Blu-ray for around the $15 mark, it then would be worth picking up.