Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

(vt Big!) US movie (1988). 20th Century-Fox/Gracie Films/American Entertainment. Pr James L Brooks, Robert Greenhut. Co-pr Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg. Dir Penny Marshall. Screenplay Ross, Spielberg. Novelization Big! * (1988) by B B Hiller and Neil W Hiller. Starring Tom Hanks (Josh Baskin), John Heard (Paul Davenport), Robert Loggia (MacMillan), David Moscow (Young Josh), Elizabeth Perkins (Susan Lawrence), Jared Rushton (Billy Kopeche). 102 mins. Colour.

Although involving only one person rather than two, B has an essentially Identity-Exchange plot. 12-year-old computer nerd Josh wants to be bigger so that he has a chance with school bimbette Cynthia; the latest humiliation comes when, in front of her, he is barred from a Carnival ride. Nearby is electrical wishing-machine Zoltar; although unplugged, it lights up to grant him his Wish. Next morning he wakes to find himself adult; the carnival has gone, and his mother believes him an intruder. Only best friend Billy will believe what has happened; he helps Josh get to New York, instal himself in a flophouse and start hunting the Zoltar machine; meantime Josh gets a job as a computer operator in MacMillan Toys. A chance encounter in a toyshop with MacMillan himself leads Josh, with his childish understanding of Toys, to a Vice-Presidency in the company. It also leads him to Susan, who has been sleeping her way up the corporate structure; expecting merely sex, she finds instead love – and in due course sex. This consummation decides Josh to opt for adulthood, but at last, finding the Zoltar machine, he wishes himself back to childhood, bidding Susan and the adult world a tearful farewell.

B is largely held together by supporting actors Loggia and especially Rushton; its central romance, despite would-be sophisticated ironies, has a slightly off-colour feel. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.