Big is a 1988 fantasy comedy about a twelve-year-old boy who wants nothing but to be older than he is, and when that dream suddenly comes true, he’s faced with having to figure out life as an adult while learning a few lessons along the way.
A huge commercial and critical hit, this star-making movie for Tom Hanks is famous for his funny and heart-warming performance, but also for a number of highly-memorable moments, including the famous foot-operated piano scene, but there’s a lot more that deserve a closer look. Here’s 8 things in Big you (probably) never noticed.
When you think of Josh’s family, you most likely think of his mother, played by the irreplaceable Mercedes Ruehl, who has a few good emotional moments, but did you know he had a dad, too? Yup. Played by Josh Clark, he has no lines and less than a minute of screen time, making only two short appearances in the entire film. Clark still acts today though, mostly in television and currently can be seen in HBO’s Westworld as Sheriff Reed. Still, where was the father while his son was missing?
Okay, a minor one here but at the MacMillan Toy Company where Josh, now changed to his 30-year-old self, gets an interview and then a job, he is given the application by a glasses-wearing woman who, the next time we see her is also a glasses-wearing but someone else entirely. While it is the next day in the film’s story, it’s the same desk and the same job, and the cast lists only Mildred R. Vandever (the first woman) as the receptionist. They are only blink and you’ll miss them roles, but there’s something fishy going on behind that desk.
The Ginger Man
Kinda cool, continuity wise, kinda stalky narratively, when Josh ends up at FAO Schwarz right before he plays Chopsticks on the floor piano with his boss Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia), Josh is playing with a stuffed zebra, riding it like a wild bronco. He nearly bumps into a tall red-headed man and his daughter. A few minutes later, while the Josh and MacMillan dance on the keys, the man and the girl stroll into the frame and take a seat in the front of the crowd and watch. But wait.
Here he is again, seen between the zebra and piano moments, and this time with a young boy, and he’s holding a bag he doesn’t have any other time. Who is this ginger man?
Josh is a Deadhead?
After Josh gets the job at MacMillan Toy Company, he rents a spacious apartment in the city and begins to decorate it with truckloads of toys and arcade machines, as well as a number of bumper stickers and posters. On the evening when Josh brings company executive Susan (Elizabeth Perkins) back to the apartment to sleep in bunkbeds, we can see on the wall a slightly-altered version of the famous Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley ‘Skeleton and Roses’ poster from the Dead’s 1966 concert at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. Who knew the kid was trippy?
King of the Court
In the Hanks 1984 comedy Bachelor Party, he plays a fun-loving, party boy who falls in love with his high school sweetheart and intends to marry her, much to her father’s dismay. To try and appease him he plays tennis with him, spectacularly badly. In Big, he plays racquetball with a company stooge who doesn’t like him either. He’s also spectacularly bad. In both matches, Hanks endlessly fools around, his characters not knowing how to play, bouncing about all over the court in hilarious ways.
Keeping It Real
Josh and his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton), are on the hunt for the Zoltar machine that turned Josh big. They figure there must be many more in the city, so they visit a dew arcades and vendors, hoping to find one somewhere. When none turn up, Billy gets the right idea to head to the “licensing bureau” and we see the boys walking along the street and take a turn on Worth Street in New York City. And guess where the actual City Clerk’s Office is? Yup.
141 Worth Street, which is where they go. Gotta respect the attention to details.
All Growed Up
When Josh first becomes big and heads to New York City to hide out, he gets a room at a dumpy flophouse, spending the first nights in total fear at the violence heard outside his window. As time passes, and to show he’s become accustomed, we next see Josh relaxing on the bed watching the gritty cop movie, The French Connection (1974), a famously violent film starring Gene Hackman. But listen carefully. In the clip, we see the scene where a sniper shoots at Hackman from a nearby rooftop. We hear a gunshot, then a woman screaming, and then another gunshot. Josh, now accustomed to such things, eating Oreo cookies (cream only), then flips off the set and behind him from the open window, we hear a shot, then a woman screaming, and then another gunshot, exactly like in the movie. Nice.
Zoltar On The Move
The elusive and magical Zoltar machine that Josh made his wish with at the start of the film and the one he seeks throughout so as to get back to young self is seen at the amusement park where he and Susan go on a date, even though Josh doesn’t notice it. It’s positioned next to the concession stand on the right side of a boxing arcade machine.
Not long after, when Josh rushes back to the park to use the machine and transform himself back to a boy, it’s now on the left side, farther down the boardwalk and an OutRun racing game has joined the lineup. That Zoltar gets around.