“I Wish I Were Big” (#114)

Big is one of a handful of 80s movies it felt as if everyone but me had seen. One of those movies you mention having missed out on, and someone’s jaw always drops open.

And I get it. Big was a big deal in the 80s. It made $151.7 million at the box office and was one of the top ten highest grossing films of 1988. But it was too adult for me when it came out, and I didn’t often seek out 80s comedies in my later youth. There was always plenty of fresh 90s stuff to watch if I wanted a high concept comedy. I don’t think my parents had any particular fondness for most 80s comedies, if they saw them at all. (Probably not, since they were raising a young me. If they made it out to movie theaters at all, they probably didn’t go for comedies.) I was only exposed to seminal 80s movies like Ghostbusters and Back To The Future when I was at someone else’s house. And those movies were rarely outright comedies.

Did I grow up in a world without laughter? A deadly serious small town where comedy is forbidden the way dancing is in Footloose? (I’ve also never seen Footloose.) I did not. I latched onto certain very specific comedies as an adolescent, but comedy has never been my favorite genre, and that was especially true of the 1980s, a decade that produced some very good comedies — and many very bad ones.

My thoughts on watching Big for the first time are laid out well enough in the podcast, but as with many widely beloved childhood favorites, it’s hard to get on that wavelength when you’re only coming to this film now, as an adult. With no built-in nostalgia for Big, I found it to be a pleasant watch, surprisingly loose and unambitious. There aren’t many major comedic moments or particularly memorable lines of dialogue. It’s a sweet movie — perhaps sweeter than a movie about an adult woman unwittingly sleeping with a twelve-year-old boy should be. Happy Hanksgiving, everybody!

Listen to the podcast here or on iTunes.

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