Josh Baskin (David Moscow) is a 12-year-old New Jersey kid, madly in puppy love with an older blonde girl.
Josh and his best friend Billy head for a local carnival, where right in front of his blonde goddess and a crowd of older kids, Josh is refused admission to the ‘Super Loops’ carnival ride because he’s too little.
Humiliated, Josh tries the “Zoltar Speaks” machine, which offers him one wish. He wishes he were big. The next morning, Josh wakes up – in the grown-up 30-year-old body of Tom Hanks – to find his wish has come true.
Naturally, Josh’s mother doesn’t believe this grown man is her son (thinking her grown son is actually her son’s kidnapper) and Josh is forced to run from home screaming.
Billy does believe him and convinces Josh to head for New York City, where big people go to play.
The gravity of the situation doesn’t really hit him until he’s alone at St James’ Motel in a grubby $17.50 per night room with stains on the furniture and a chain across the door. Suddenly he is by himself with nothing but the sounds of his neighbour screaming down the phone on the other side of the wall and gunshots coming from the street below for company.
Josh suits himself up and scores a data entry job at the MacMillan Toy Company, but after a kid-to-kid-at-heart bonding session with company owner Mac MacMillan (Robert Loggia) – in the famous sequence where the duo play Chopsticks and Heart and Soul with their feet on a giant three-octave floor piano in FAO Schwartz – the man-boy is promoted to Vice President in charge of Product Development.
Now with a beefy paycheque, he soon moves into a gorgeous Manhattan penthouse apartment, complete with a pinball machine, bunk beds and giant indoor trampoline.
Fellow exec Paul (John Heard) doesn’t like the new guy, but Susan (Elizabeth Perkins) slowly warms up to Josh’s innocent charms. From an adult perspective, things look pretty rosy for big Josh, but Josh doesn’t see things from an adult perspective.
Being big has its advantages, but after just six weeks of being an adult, Josh just wants to be himself again.
Big‘s sweet, childlike nature won over audiences young and old, who made the film one of the biggest hits of the year. The movie also helped turn Tom Hanks – who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance – from the gifted goof of Splash (1984) and TV’s Bosom Buddies into one of the biggest leading men in Hollywood.
Young Josh Baskin