Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Big * * *

We think of Tom Hanks now as a dramatic actor, but back in the 1980s when he started, he was almost strictly a comedic actor. He did a long string of entertaining, but not terribly memorable, comedies: Splash, Bachelor Party, Volunteers, Money Pit, and the list goes on. Big is one of his most memorable and critically-received comedies in this era. Wikipedia even says that it is still considered the gold standard for the "child trapped in an adult body" movie. Hmm, are there really that many movies of that type....Probably everyone knows the plot: kid wishes he was Big, gets his wish, has adventures being an adult, and then....well, you'll have to see the movie. For me, Big holds a special place. It is the movie after which back in the 80s, I decided that "You know, I really don't like Tom Hanks as an actor. He's a curly fluff-head." I think it was not until Saving Private Ryan that I begrudgingly changed my mind. So I rewatched Big in 2006 with some curiosity.

Well, you know, Big was fun. Mindless fun, but fun. Tom Hanks does do a great job of being a 12-year old in a 30+ year-old body, and the film has some good scenes. I now want a trampoline in my house. But you know what struck me most.... How that woman responded after finding out she'd been having intimate relations with a 12-year old (in a 30-year old body, but whatever). Do you remember that scene in Friends where Monica has a fling with a young fellow and then finds out he's like 16 and in high school. She has the normal reaction of a pushing 30 woman to this situation: "Ick, ack, help get me the memory-modifier. I need to erase this memory. Ug, this is so icky!" The woman in Big at least stops the relationship, whew, but then treats him like an aunt -- gazing fondly and kissing him on the cheek. This is not normal. I couldn't help thinking that woman must be a pedophile.

I know, you're rolling your eyes. This is a movie, a fantasy. The plot is based on a boy that magically transforms into a man's body, and you have problems with the woman's response not being realistic?! Yeah, yeah, I know this is every adolescent male's fantasy. It's just that his adolescent fantasy translates into 5-10 years of incarceration and eternal damnation.

MONICA: Ethan, focus. How could you not tell me?
ETHAN: Well, you never told me how old you were.
MONICA: Well, that´s different. My lie didn´t make one of us a felon in 48 states. What were you thinking?
ETHAN: I wasn´t thinking. I was too busy fallin'--
MONICA: Don´t say it.
ETHAN: --in love with you.
MONICA: Really?
ETHAN: Sorry.
MONICA: Well, fall out of it. You know, you shouldn´t even be here, it´s a school night. Oh god, oh god. I´m like those women that you see with shiny guys like Chad. I´m Joan Collins.