We could all learn something from Big. How to recapture our youth, preserve an open perspective, see the world through different eyes, or more importantly be better people.
Big is a simply fun film. Josh (Tom Hanks) turns from a 13-year old boy on the precipice of noticing girls to an adult, all overnight. His wish at an unplugged carnival game whisks him to an awkward transition of grade school crushes into abrupt vice presidency at a toy company – entirely by accident.
But, Big is more than that. It’s a perspective film, or rather regarding how we lose it as we grow older. We lose appreciation for friendship and trade it in for office rivalries. We become enamored with spreadsheets representing products rather than the product itself. Those ideas, simple as they are, embed Big with its charms and a Tom Hanks performance which pre-Philadelphia defined his career.
Much of the piece is built on “what if” ideas, beginning with conceptualization. If a kid turned into an adult, what if someone found him/her attractive? What if they were in charge of a toy company? What if they sat in on business meetings? All of these scenarios, disjointed as their conception may have been, seamlessly piece themselves together into a brightly cheery narrative and an indescribable ’80s era mystique.
The world is never out to get Josh despite his immature eyes. There is impenetrable logic in his innocence and grand entertainment in his approach. Big is impossible for more than its wishing fantasy, but that fits. If a child believes seeking work with a fudged application is logical, it should happen. In this world, kids drift into random solutions. Suddenly turned into an adult? Find a hotel as a logical first step, because from a child’s perspective, that becomes step one. Therein lies an acceptance of random situations that, for whatever reason, dissipates as we age.
Big calls on our inner child. Actually, it depicts our inner child quite literally. Everyone wants a shot at an indoor trampoline or to play laser tag in a department store. Society says otherwise… because it’s a bully. Why drown in problems when you can drown in toys?
Josh had a blast during his flirtation with adult life. Mercifully, Fox never created a sequel. If he started his own company when he grew up, his Big experience would have sent him into the corporate world wearing clown shoes. He showed colorful could work and people were better for it, at least those who chose to accept perspective.
This is Fox’s second run at Big on Blu-ray and for the 25th anniversary they do, well, nothing actually. With the exception of an anniversary banner and fancy slipcover, the disc itself is merely a repackage. Since Big first jetted onto Blu-ray in 2009, changing standards have lessened visual appeal. No clean-up has been performed, leaving dirt and slim scratches cascading across the frame. This is never damaged to severe levels, but the passage of four, close to five years between releases says something should have been done to appease buyers.
AVC encoding is fine, working through a noticeable if clean grain structure. Big contains both the theatrical and 20 minute longer extended cut. Deleted scenes re-inserted into the film carry a notable sharpening effect. Grain is raised and ringing becomes apparent. Again, compression holds even if mastering is a downer.
Digital effects have not been applied to color, even if reds appear to push limits. Flesh tones are strikingly natural in this modern era of orange tints. While Big’s palette exists in its set design itself, there remain interesting visual markers. Office life is gray, parties are splashed with heightened lighting, and Josh’s adult apartment is cascaded with colorful items. Times Square (in a brief appearance) is especially bright with its ’80s era ads.
Opening shots do veer into questionable. Behind the title cards lies an image which looks filtered excessively. Possibly those credits caused an anomaly which Fox attempted to patch up, or the credits are the cause themselves. Big picks back up with its big boy pants and delivers a naturally soft, pleasing image which always contains the elements of film. Sharp and notable fidelity is limited, although the bump from DVD remains substantial just in resolution alone. If you already own the first Blu-ray however, you’re just fine where you are.
Audio impact from this DTS-HD mix comes entirely from the carnival sequences. Rides and cheering kids will split the stereos while rear speaker use proves artificially inflated. While roller coasters panning into the surrounds is an admirable ambient touch, age has watered down the effect at the source and volume spikes in the mixing booth make it all too evident. Subtly is not practiced.
Dialog is clear with a touch of vintage natural to the film. The ’80s era origins are distinct and pleasant with no intrusions from cracking or popping. Audio condition is perfect, unlike the video.
Big does not have a commentary, at least not in the traditional sense. When Gary Ross envisioned the idea, he sat down with Anne Spielberg and brainstormed potential scenarios for the movie. Those sessions were recorded to tape and that is what becomes the commentary, a series of idea exchanges which turns remarkable when you realize how much ended up in the finished film.
Deleted scenes with intros from director Penny Marshall (on most of them) are offered, and these ended up in the extended cut. Big Beginnings is a sit down chat with Ross/Spielberg on the idea and how it went through production. Chemistry of a Classic is a routine making of and enjoyable as such.
The World of Play peers into the toy industry through the lends of various execs during a 2007 product inspection (which dates these features). Hollywood Backstory is a made-for-TV retrospective looking back on Big’s impact. A news snippet on the film’s premiere party is last except for trailers. In total, extras run a bit over an hour.
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