Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin, a pre-adolescent boy whose wish to be "big" transforms him physically into an adult. The film also stars Elizabeth Perkins, David Moscow, John Heard, and Robert Loggia, and was written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg. It was produced by Gracie Films and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Big Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPenny Marshall
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyBarry Sonnenfeld
Edited byBarry Malkin
Music byHoward Shore
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 3, 1988 (1988-06-03)
Running time
104 minutes (Theatrical), 130 minutes (Extended Edition)
CountryUnited States
Budget$18 million[1]
Box office$151.7 million[1]

Upon release, Big was met with wide critical acclaim, particularly for Hanks' performance. It was a huge commercial success as well, grossing $151 million worldwide against a production budget of $18 million, and it proved to be pivotal to Hanks' career, establishing him as a major box-office draw as well as a critical favorite.[2] The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Hanks) and Best Original Screenplay.


Twelve-year-old Josh Baskin is told that he is too short for a carnival ride called the Super Loops while attempting to impress a girl. Dejected, he inserts a coin into an antique fortune-teller machine called Zoltar, and makes a wish to be "big". It dispenses a card stating "Your wish is granted", but Josh discovers the machine has been unplugged the entire time.

The next morning, Josh finds that he has grown into an adult. He tries to locate the Zoltar machine, but finds that the carnival has moved on to its next destination. Returning home, he tries to explain his predicament to his mother, who chases him from the house thinking he is a stranger who has kidnapped her son. He then finds his best friend Billy, and convinces him of his identity by reciting a rap which only they know. With Billy's help, he learns that it will take at least six weeks to find the Zoltar machine again, so Josh rents a flophouse in New York City and gets a job as a data entry clerk at the MacMillan Toy Company.

The Walking Piano, as featured in Big

Josh meets the company's owner, Mr. MacMillan, at FAO Schwarz, and impresses him with his insight into current toys and his childlike enthusiasm. They play a duet ("Heart and Soul") on a Walking Piano, and MacMillan invites Josh to a massive marketing campaign pitch meeting with senior executives. Unimpressed with the toy being pitched, Josh shocks and challenges the executives with a simple declaration that the toy is not "fun", and while his follow-up suggestions invigorate the team for new ideas, he earns the animosity of Paul Davenport, the pitch's leader. Meanwhile, a pleased MacMillan promotes Josh to Vice President of Product Development. He soon attracts the attention of Susan Lawrence, a fellow executive, and a romance begins to develop, much to the dismay of her former boyfriend, Davenport. Josh becomes increasingly entwined in his "adult" life by spending time with her, mingling with her friends, and being in a steady relationship. His ideas become valuable assets to MacMillan Toys; however, he begins to forget what it is like to be a child, and his tight schedule rarely allows him to spend time with Billy.

MacMillan asks Josh to come up with proposals for a new line of toys. He is intimidated by the need to formulate the business aspects of the proposal, but Susan says that she will handle the business end while he comes up with the ideas. Nevertheless, he feels pressured and longs for his old life. When he expresses doubts to Susan and attempts to explain that he is really a child, she interprets this as fear of commitment on his part and dismisses his explanation.

Josh learns from Billy that the Zoltar machine is now at Sea Point Park, and he leaves in the middle of his presentation to MacMillan and the other executives. Susan also leaves and encounters Billy, who tells her where Josh went. At the park, Josh finds the machine, unplugs it, and makes a wish to become "a kid again". He is then confronted by Susan for running off, but upon seeing the machine and the fortune it has given him, realizes that he was telling the truth, and she becomes despondent at realizing their relationship will end. He tells her that he enjoyed their time together and suggests that she use the machine to wish herself younger, though she declines and offers to take him home.

After sharing an emotional goodbye with Susan, Josh transforms into a child again before reuniting with his family and Billy.



The Italian film Da grande (1987) has been said to be the inspiration for Big.[3][4]

Steven Spielberg was attached to direct the film and wanting to cast Harrison Ford as Josh but Spielberg dropped out when his son Max was born.[5][6] Kevin Costner, Steve Guttenberg, Warren Beatty and Dennis Quaid were all offered the role of Josh, all of whom turned it down.[7][8] Albert Brooks was also offered the role but turned it down as he didn't want to play a kid.[9][10] John Travolta wanted to play Josh but the studio wasn't interested in casting him.[11] Sean Penn was considered for the role of Josh but Marshall deemed him too young, Gary Busey auditioned for the role of Josh but Marshall didn’t think he could pull off playing an adult.[7] Andy García read for Josh but one of the studio executives didn't want to spend 18 million for "a kid to grow to be Puerto Rican" (García is actually Cuban).[7] Debra Winger tried to convince Marshall to rewrite Josh into a Woman.[12] Robert De Niro was cast in the lead role with Elizabeth Perkins. He later dropped out due to "scheduling conflicts" and was replaced by Tom Hanks.[13][14]


Critical responseEdit

The New York Times praised the performances of Moscow and Rushton, saying the film "features believable young teen-age mannerisms from the two real boys in its cast and this only makes Mr. Hanks's funny, flawless impression that much more adorable."[15] John Simon of the National Review described Big as "an accomplished, endearing, and by no means mindless fantasy".[16]

The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor (Hanks) and Best Original Screenplay.[17] At the Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, while Hanks was nominated for (and won) for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.[18][19]

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored a "Certified Fresh" 97% rating based on 74 reviews, with an average rating of 7.90/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Refreshingly sweet and undeniably funny, Big is a showcase for Tom Hanks, who dives into his role and infuses it with charm and surprising poignancy."[20] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[21] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[22]

The film is number 23 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies. In 2000, it was ranked 42nd on the American Film Institute's "100 Years…100 Laughs" list.[23] In June 2008, AFI named it as the tenth-best film in the fantasy genre.[24] In 2008, it was selected by Empire Magazine as one of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time."[25]

Big was part of a series of twin films featuring an age-changing plot produced in the late 1980s, including Like Father Like Son (1987), 18 Again! (1988), Vice Versa (1988), 14 Going on 30 (1988),[26][27]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Box officeEdit

The film opened at No. 2 with $8.2 million in its first weekend.[30] It would end up grossing over $151 million ($116 million in the US and $36 million internationally).[30] It was the first feature film directed by a woman to gross over $100 million.[31]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards Academy Award for Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Tom Hanks Won


Film remakesEdit

In 2004, an Indian remake titled New in Tamil-language starring S.J. Suryah and Naani starring Mahesh Babu in Telugu-language was released.[32][33] An Indian Hindi-language remake titled Aao Wish Karein starring Aftab Shivdasani released in 2009.[34]

Broadway musicalEdit

In 1996, the film was made into a musical for the Broadway stage. It featured music by David Shire, lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr., and a book by John Weidman. Directed by Mike Ockrent, and choreographed by Susan Stroman, it opened on April 28, 1996, and closed on October 13, 1996, after 193 performances.

Television showEdit

The first attempt at adapting the film as a TV series came in 1990, with a sitcom pilot produced for CBS that starred Bruce Norris as Josh, Alison LaPlaca as Susan, and Darren McGavin as Mr. MacMillan; it was not picked up as a series.

On September 30, 2014, Fox announced that a TV remake, loosely based on the film, was planned. Written and executive produced by Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce, it dealt with what it means to be an adult and kid in present times.[35]

In popular cultureEdit

The fictional Zoltar Speaks fortune-telling machine portrayed in the film was modeled after the real-life 1960s machine Zoltan,[36][37] the name differing by one letter. In 2007, the Nevada-based animatronic company Characters Unlimited was awarded a trademark for Zoltar Speaks[38] and began selling fortune-telling machines with that name.[39]

The film is referenced in the 2019 DC Extended Universe film Shazam!. In the scene in which Doctor Sivana chases Billy Batson into a toy store, Billy unknowingly steps onto a Walking Piano and briefly plays it before being knocked out a window by Sivanna. Additionally, both films' plots center around a child who is magically transformed into an adult.[40][41]

An Easter egg made an appearance in The Order season 2, episode 2, entitled "Free Radicals, Part 2." In the episode, Alyssa shows Jack (Jake Manley) their vault of magical artifacts, which is described by Alyssa as "the beating heart of the Order." This place has everything from Excalibur to the Ark of the Covenant. While there, a Zoltar fortune-telling machine from Big catches Jack's eye. Alyssa explains that it's an "enchanted" Zoltar machine that makes wishes come true. After Jack says he wishes to know his major, Alyssa quickly warns him that Zoltar is a "bit of a trickster" who "grants your wishes ironically." The machine, which is among the artifacts stolen by the demon summoned by the Knights of the Saint Christopher, can be spotted in multiple episodes.[42]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Big (1988)". The Numbers. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  2. ^ "Tom Hanks Biography". (FYI / A&E Networks). Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  3. ^ "Cinema Italiano 2010: Master of Ceremonies and Jurors". Cinema Italiano in Hawaii. Archived from the original on December 27, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  4. ^ Irazábal Martín, Concha (1996). Alice, Sí Está: Directoras de Cine Europeas y Norteamericanas 1896-1996 (in Spanish). Vol. 23 of Cuadernos inacabados. Madrid: Horas y Horas. ISBN 9788487715594.
  5. ^ Getlen, Larry (December 8, 2013). "How Tom Hanks got 'Big' 25 years ago". New York Post.
  6. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (July 6, 1988). "Tom Hanks: From Leading Man to Movie Star". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b c Yamato, Jen (September 18, 2012). "My Mother Was Nuts Book Excerpt: How Robert de Niro, Not Tom Hanks, Almost Starred in Penny Marshall's Big". Movieline. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  8. ^ Wilson, Chris (August 24, 2013). "Steve Guttenberg turns 55: 15 reasons why the Police Academy star is a cinematic treasure". Daily Mirror.
  9. ^ Mell, Eila (2005). Casting Might-Have-Beens: A Film by Film Directory of Actors Considered for Roles Given to Others. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-1-47660-976-8.
  10. ^ Evans, Bradford (June 30, 2011). "The Lost Roles of Albert Brooks".
  11. ^ Cormier, Roger (June 3, 2015). "15 Huge Facts About Big". Mental Floss.
  12. ^[bare URL]
  13. ^ Haring, Bruce (April 8, 2021). "Robert De Niro Was Originally Cast In 'Big' Instead Of Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins Claims". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  14. ^ Parker, Ryan (June 8, 2021). "Robert De Niro Explains Why He Dropped Out of the Lead in 'Big'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  15. ^ Maslin, Janet (June 3, 1988). "Review/Film; Tom Hanks as a 13-Year-Old, in 'Big'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  16. ^ Simon, John (2005). John Simon on Film: Criticism 1982-2001. Applause Books. p. 69.
  17. ^ "The 61st Annual Oscar Awards". The Baltimore Sun. March 26, 1989. Retrieved March 30, 2021 – via
  18. ^ "Hollywood Foreign Press Lists Globe Nominations". Tyler Courier-Times. January 6, 1989. Retrieved March 30, 2021 – via
  19. ^ "Here are movie, TV award winners: "Actor - musical or comedy" Tom Hanks, Big". Asbury Park Press. Associated Press. January 30, 1989. Retrieved March 30, 2021 – via
  20. ^ "Big (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  21. ^ "Big 1988". Metacritic.
  22. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Big" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  23. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 7, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  24. ^ "10 Top 10: Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. 2008. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  25. ^ "Empire's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time". December 5, 2006. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  26. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (January 15, 1990). "The Media Business; Buchwald Ruling: Film Writers vs. Star Power". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  27. ^ Cormier, Roger (June 3, 2015). "15 Huge Facts About 'Big'". Mental Floss. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  28. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 26, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  29. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10: Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  30. ^ a b "Big (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  31. ^ Telling, Gillian (December 19, 2018). "Penny Marshall, Who Died at 75, Broke Barriers as a Female Director: A Look at Her Biggest Hits". People (magazine). Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  32. ^ "A Year of Inspirations". Idlebrain. December 29, 2004.
  33. ^ "Naani". Sify. May 17, 2004. Archived from the original on August 30, 2020.
  34. ^ "Review: AAO Wish Karein anything but a fairy tale". Sify. November 13, 2009. Archived from the original on December 17, 2019.
  35. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 30, 2014). "'Big' Series In Works At Fox With 'Enlisted's Kevin Biegel & Mike Royce". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
  36. ^ Kurtz, Bill (1994). Arcade Treasures: With Price Guide. Schiffer. p. 76. ISBN 0-88740-619-X.
  37. ^ "Zoltan Fortune Teller Machine Arcade". Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  38. ^ "U.S. Trademark Status serial number 76668678". USPTO. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  39. ^ Buchanan, Leigh (June 12, 2017). "Fortunetelling Can Be a Million-Dollar Business. Just Ask This Company". Inc. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  40. ^ Pham, Jason (April 11, 2019). "13 'Shazam!' Easter Eggs You Totally Missed in Your First Watch". StyleCaster.
  41. ^ Berger, Matt (April 16, 2019). "10 Movie References and Inspirations in Shazam!". ScreenRant.
  42. ^ Raymond, Nicholas (July 5, 2020). "The Order Season 2 Has A Big Movie Easter Egg". ScreenRant.

External linksEdit