AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Director: Penny Marshall (Dir)
Release Date:   3 Jun 1988
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 3 Jun 1988
Production Date:   began 10 Aug 1987 in NJ and NY
Duration (in mins):   104
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Tom Hanks (Josh [Baskin])  
    Elizabeth Perkins (Susan)  
    Robert Loggia (MacMillan)  
    John Heard (Paul)  
    Jared Rushton (Billy)  
  Featuring: Jon Lovitz (Scotty Brennen)  
    David Moscow (Young Josh [Baskin])  
    Mercedes Ruehl (Mrs. Baskin)  
    Harvey Miller (Personnel director)  
  [and] Debra Jo Rupp (Miss Patterson)  
    Josh Clark (Mr. Baskin)  
    Kimberlee M. Davis (Cynthia Benson)  
    Oliver Block (Freddie Benson)  
    Erika Katz (Cynthia's friend)  
    Allan Wasserman (Gym teacher)  
    Mark Ballou (Derek)  
    Gary Klar (Ticket taker)  
    Alec Von Sommer (First brother)  
    Chris Dowden (Second Brother)  
    Rockets Redglare (Motel clerk)  
    Jaime Tirelli (Spanish voice)  
    Paul Herman (Schizo)  
    Nancy Giles (Administrative woman)  
    Jordan Thaler (Administrative clerk)  
    Dana Kaminski (Personnel receptionist)  
    Tracy Reiner (Test market researcher)  
    James Eckhouse (Supervisor)  
    Linda Gillen (Woman in red dress)  
    Mildred R. Vandever (Receptionist)  
    Bert Goldstein (First executive)  
    Kevin Meaney (Executive #2)  
    Peter McRobbie (Executive #3)  
    Paul J. Q. Lee (Executive #4)  
    Keith W. Reddin (Payroll clerk)  
    Lela Ivey (Bank teller)  
    Dolores Messina (Real estate agent)  
    Gordon Press (Moving man)  
    George J. Manos (Limousine driver)  
    Vinny Capone (Photon laser gunfighter)  
    Susan Wilder (Karen)  
    John Rothman (Phil)  
    Judd Trichter (Adam)  
    Pasquale Pugliese (Tenor/Dough man)  
  Singing waiters: Tom Coviello    
    Richard Devia    
    Teddy Holiavko    
    Augusto Mariani    
    Alfredo Monti    
    Sergio Mosetti    
  [and] Armando Penso    
    Edward Schick (Piano player)  
    F. Benjamin Stimler (Boy in leaves)  
    Jonathan Isaac Landau (Boy in leaves)  
    Samantha Larkin (Girl friend of Cynthia)  
    Bruce Jarchow (Photographer)  
    Vaughn Sandman (Boy on baseball field)  

Summary: At a carnival with his parents and baby sister, thirteen-year-old Josh Baskin begs to ride a roller coaster alone. In line for the ride, he sheepishly strikes up conversation with a pretty schoolmate, Cynthia Benson, but is crushed when her older boyfriend shows up and is further embarrassed when a carnival worker tells him he is too short for the ride. Roaming the carnival grounds by himself, Josh chances upon an automated fortune teller and inserts change into the machine. The eyes of Zoltar, the fortune teller, become red, and the machine instructs Josh to make a wish. Josh wishes to be big, and receives a printed card that reads, “Your wish is granted.” The next morning, Josh wakes up to find he has become a full-grown man overnight. Panicked, Josh rides his bicycle to the carnival grounds but finds it empty. Returning home, he scares his mother. Believing that the adult version of Josh is an intruder, Mrs. Baskin threatens to call the police. Josh goes to his school and corners Billy, his next-door neighbor and best friend, after a gym practice. Once Billy is convinced of Josh’s story, he steals cash and some of his father’s clothes for Josh, and accompanies him on a bus ride to New York City. Meanwhile, Josh’s parents file a missing child report. In New York, Billy helps Josh find a room at a cheap hotel and promises to come back the next day. That night, Josh remains awake in his squalid room, frightened by the noises coming from the other rooms and the street below. The next day, Billy and Josh search the city for another Zoltar machine, to no avail. At a consumer affairs office, they apply for a list of carnivals and fairs, but the clerk informs them that the request will take six weeks to process. Resigned to staying in the city for the next six weeks, Josh answers a job notice for a computer operator at Macmillan Toys. Although he lies about his social security number and work history, Josh is hired. Posing as a friendly kidnapper, he calls his mother and promises that her son will be returned in the same condition he was taken. She demands proof that Josh is all right, asking what song she used to sing to him. He responds correctly by singing the show tune, “Memories,” causing Mrs. Baskin to weep. On a weekend, Josh runs into Macmillan, the head of Macmillan Toys, while playing around in FAO Schwartz, a toy store. Recognizing Josh as a new employee, Macmillan reveals that he comes to FAO Schwartz every Saturday. Macmillan then asks Josh’s opinion on various toys. They happen upon a giant set of piano keys on the floor, and Macmillan watches while Josh jumps around on the keys. Josh encourages Macmillan to join him in a performance of “Chopsticks,” and a crowd of onlookers applauds them. When Macmillan promotes Josh to Vice President of Product Development, two of his coworkers, Susan and Paul, stew over the unfair promotion. Soon after, Paul presents a new toy at a meeting, and Josh questions the product’s appeal. Afterward, Paul tells Susan, who is also his girl friend, that Josh is a “killer.” Josh rents a large, loft apartment and transforms it into a playroom with arcade games, a trampoline, and a basketball hoop. He writes his parents an upbeat letter, stating that his time away has been similar to summer camp. At a Macmillan company party, Josh arrives in a flamboyant white tuxedo, and his colleagues snicker at him. Susan befriends him and encourages Josh to try caviar, but he chokes on it in disgust. She suggests they leave the party, and they take Susan’s hired limousine to Josh’s apartment. Although Susan tries to have a serious adult conversation, Josh is distracted by the amenities in the limousine and encourages her to stick her head out of the sunroof. When Susan mentions spending the night together, Josh misinterprets her sexual advances and welcomes her to sleep over. Susan is overwhelmed by the childlike décor of Josh’s apartment. Despite her reluctance, Josh lures Susan onto the trampoline, and they have fun jumping together. Later, Susan is disappointed when Josh indicates that they must sleep on separate bunks of his bunk bed. Upset that Susan left the party with Josh, Paul takes Josh to play racquetball the next day with the intention of humiliating him on the court. However, Josh loses patience with Paul’s poor sportsmanship and they get into a tussle. Back at the office, Susan nurses Josh’s cuts. Josh tells her she is one of the nicest people he has ever met and she kisses him on the cheek. Soon after, Susan breaks up with Paul. Billy takes Josh to a restaurant for his birthday, but feels neglected when Josh admits he has other plans later that night. Josh goes on a date with Susan to an amusement park where he does not notice another Zoltar machine. At a dance hall, Susan confesses that Josh has been on her mind and embraces him on the dance floor. Josh begins to confess his real age, but stops short, kissing her instead. Back at her apartment, Susan undresses while Josh watches in awe and they spend the night together. Billy finally receives the list of carnivals and fairs that he and Josh requested, but he cannot reach Josh at the office. At Susan’s apartment for dinner, Josh talks excitedly about a toy idea, but she interrupts to ask about the state of their relationship. Instead of answering her question, Josh playfully wrestles Susan to the ground. The next day, Billy bursts into Josh’s office, but Josh claims he is too busy and asks his friend to come back later, prompting Billy to accuse him of losing sight of his priorities. Later, Josh returns to his hometown and watches his friends and neighbors from afar. At dinner with Susan, Josh reveals his real age and attempts to explain his transformation, but she refuses to believe him. Having researched the list of carnivals and fairs, Billy returns to Josh’s office and informs him there is a Zoltar machine at Sea Point Park, the park he visited with Susan. Although Josh and Susan are due to make a presentation about a computerized comic book they developed, Josh wanders out of the presentation in a daze and Susan rushes after him. On the street, Josh slips into a taxi, and Susan arrives moments later, noticing Billy as he calls after Josh from the sidewalk. Susan confronts Billy, demanding to know where Josh is headed. Josh finds the Zoltar machine and makes a wish to be a kid again. Susan arrives and reprimands him for walking out on her. She sees the Zoltar machine and realizes that Josh was telling the truth. Softening, Susan offers to drive him home, and outside his house, she kisses his forehead before they part ways. As Josh heads to his front door, Susan sees him transform back into a thirteen-year-old boy. Josh reunites with his mother, and sometime later, he and Billy discuss baseball as they walk down the street.  

Production Company: Gracie Films  
Production Text: A Gracie Films Production
A Penny Marshall Film
Produced in association with American Entertainment Partners II L.P.
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation  
Director: Penny Marshall (Dir)
  Robert Greenhut (Unit prod mgr)
  Thomas Reilly (1st asst dir)
  Ken Ornstein (2d asst dir)
  Danny Irom (2d 2d asst dir)
  Sue Fellows (DGA trainee)
Producer: James L. Brooks (Prod)
  Robert Greenhut (Prod)
  Anne Spielberg (Co-prod)
  Gary Ross (Co-prod)
Writer: Gary Ross (Wrt)
  Anne Spielberg (Wrt)
Photography: Barry Sonnenfeld (Dir of photog)
  Anthony Jannelli (Cam op)
  Michael Green (Asst cam)
  Jay Levy (Asst cam)
  Bobby Mancuso (Asst cam)
  Brian Hamill (Still photog)
  Dennis Gamiello (Key grip)
  John Lowry (2d grip)
  John DeBlau (Gaffer)
  Jerry DeBlau (Best boy)
Art Direction: Santo Loquasto (Prod des)
  Tom Warren (Art dir)
  Speed Hopkins (Art dir)
  Michael Smith (Asst art dir)
  Glenn Lloyd (Art dept coord)
  Jane Clark (Story board illustrator)
  Jeff Balsmeyer (Story board illustrator)
Film Editor: Barry Malkin (Ed)
  Elizabeth Canney (Asst film ed)
  Peter B. Ellis (2d asst film ed)
  Patrick Crane (2d asst film ed)
  Dennis Brookins D. E. B. Negative Cutting Service, Inc. (Negative matching)
Set Decoration: George DeTitta (Set dec)
  Susan Bode (Set dec)
  Dave Weinman (Set dresser)
  James Mazzola (Prop master)
  Jeff Mazzola (Asst prop master)
  James Sorice (Master scenic artist)
  Cosmo Sorice (Standby scenic artist)
  Ron Petagna (Const coord)
  Arne Olsen (Chief const grip)
Costumes: Judianna Makovsky (Cost des)
  Elizabeth Shelton (Asst to the cost des)
  Bill Campbell (Men's ward supv)
  Patricia Eiben (Women's ward supv)
  Libby Titus (Ward asst)
  Andrea Wallace (Ward asst)
Music: Howard Shore (Mus)
  Jim Weidman (Mus ed)
  Suzana Peric (Mus ed)
  Scott Grusin (Mus ed)
  Elliot Abbott (Mus coord)
  Homer Denison (Orch)
  Jimmie Haskell (Addl arr by)
  Armin Steiner (Mus scoring mixer)
  Walt Borchers (Scoring crew)
  Terry Brown (Scoring crew)
  Chuck Garsha (Scoring crew)
Sound: Les Lazarowitz (Prod sd mixer)
  Linda Murphy (Boom op)
  Mike Bedard (Cableman)
  Todd-AO/Glen Glenn Studios (Rerec at)
  Chris Jenkins (Rerec mixer)
  Gary Alexander (Rerec mixer)
  Steve Pederson (Rerec mixer)
  Jerry Ross (Supv sd ed)
  Tom Bellfort (Sd ed)
  Jay Dranch (Sd ed)
  David Fechtor (Sd ed)
  Sukey Fontelieu (Sd ed)
  Bobbe P. Kurtz (Sd ed)
  Cindy Marty (Sd ed)
  James Matheny (Sd ed)
  Frank Smathers (Sd ed)
  Hugo Weng (Sd ed)
  Linda Whittlesey (Sd ed)
  Beth Bergeron (Supv ADR ed)
  Avram Gold (Dial ed)
  Joe Dorn (Asst sd ed)
  Ann Ducommun (Asst sd ed)
  Julie Feiner (Asst sd ed)
  Christopher Flick (Asst sd ed)
  Susan Mazzei (Asst sd ed)
  Rob Yamamoto (Asst sd ed)
  Taj Soundworks (Foley by)
  James Ashwill (Foley rec by)
Special Effects: Saul Bass (Titles)
  Jeff Okun (Title coord)
  Pacific Title (Opticals)
  Apogee Productions, Inc. (Opticals)
Dance: Patricia Birch (Choreog)
Make Up: Mickey Scott (Makeup artist)
  Lyndell Quiyou (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Juliet Taylor (Casting)
  Paula Herald (Casting)
  Timothy Marshall Bourne (Asst prod mgr)
  Amy Lemisch (Post prod supv)
  Todd Arnow (Prod supv)
  Amy Herman (Prod supv)
  Joseph Hartwick (Prod assoc)
  Paul Germain (Prod assoc)
  Diane Brooks (Prod exec)
  Jack Winter (Spec adv)
  Richard Sakai (Exec in charge of prod for Gracie Films)
  Kay Chapin (Scr supv)
  Thomas Imperato (Prod auditor)
  Amy Lemisch (Asst to Penny Marshall)
  Patty McDonald (Exec asst to James L. Brooks)
  Jan Nizen (Asst prod auditor)
  PMK Public Relations (Pub)
  Harold "Whitey" McEvoy (Transportation capt)
  Richard Baratta (Loc mgr)
  Nick Bernstein (Loc scout)
  James Davis (Loc scout)
  Pamela Thur (Loc scout)
  Gilbert S. Williams (Loc scout)
  Sam Bruskin (Studio mgr)
  Ellen Lewis (Casting assoc)
  Dawn Steinberg (Casting assistant)
  Todd Michael Thaler (Extras casting)
  Judie Fixler (Extras casting)
  Barbara Harris (Voice casting)
  Lana Lewis (Asst to co-prods)
  Michael DeCasper (Prod asst)
  Lisa Fisher (Prod asst)
  Craig Knizek (Prod asst)
  Debra Lupard (Prod asst)
  Brian Mannain (Prod asst)
  J. Michael Mendel (Prod asst)
  Doug Ornstein (Prod asst)
  John Saffir (Prod asst)
  Bill Scheffer (Prod asst)
  Sonia Villalba (Prod asst)
  Scott Schaffer (Craft services)
Color Personnel: DuArt Film Laboratories (Col by)
  Bob Hagans (Col timer)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Moonlight Serenade," written by Glenn Miller.
Songs: "The Way We Were," written by Alan & Marilyn Bergman and Marvin Hamlisch; "Rebel Yell," written by Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, performed by Billy Idol, courtesy of Chrysalis Records Inc.; "Welcome To Our World Of Toys," written and performed by Bobby Gosh, courtesy of Bygosh Music; "Be A Helper Bee," written by Kimberly A. Bradstreet, performed by Kimberly and Friends, courtesy of Dance and Jingle Inc.; "We Go Together," written by Joel Frankel, performed by Kimberly and Friends, courtesy of Dance and Jingle Inc.; "Heart and Soul," written by Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser; "Hot In The City," written and performed by Billy Idol, courtesy of Chrysalis Records Inc.; "Workin' For A Livin'," written by Mario Cipollina - Johnny Colla - Bill Gibson - Chris Hayes - Sean Hopper - Huey Lewis, performed by Huey Lewis and The News, courtesy of Chrysalis Records Inc.; "Forget Me Nots," written by Patrice Rushen and Freddie Washington, performed by Patrice Rushen, courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products; "It's In Everyone Of Us," written by David Pomeranz.
Composer: Steve Stevens
  Alan Bergman
  Marilyn Bergman
  Kimberly A. Bradstreet
  Hoagy Carmichael
  Mario Cipollina
  Johnny Colla
  Joel Frankel
  Bill Gibson
  Bobby Gosh
  Chris Hayes
  Sean Hopper
  Billy Idol
  Huey Lewis
  Frank Loesser
  Glenn Miller
  David Pomeranz
  Patrice Rushen
  Freddie Washington
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 12/7/1988 dd/mm/yyyy PA373591

PCA NO: 28795
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres
  Lenses/Prints: Lenses and Panaflex® cameras by Panavision®; Prints by Deluxe®

Genre: Comedy-drama
Subjects (Major): Adolescents
  Missing persons
Subjects (Minor): Amusement parks
  Career women
  Cocktail parties
  Mothers and sons
  New York City
  Toy making
  Toy stores

Note: End credits include a "Special Thanks" to Carol Caldwell, Ken Estin, Monica Johnson, Michi Kakutani, Garry Marshall, Polly Platt and Bartle Davis, and acknowledgements to the following organizations and individuals: The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, Pat Scott, Director; The New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development; The New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission; New York Stage Facilities, The Camera Mart, Inc. – New York; Reithoffer Shows, Inc.; F.A.O. Schwartz; Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt; Crossland Savings Bank; Asti Restaurant; Walking Piano TM by Remo Saraceni; Computer Image Designed by SMA Video Inc., Computer display engineered by David Satin; Some menswear by Cerruti 1881; Pierre Cardin Formal Wear; Custom tailoring for Miss Perkins by Schneeman Studio; New York Yankees; Rye Playland Amusement Park.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, screenwriters Anne Spielberg and Gary Ross developed the story of Big in one hour. Days after the screenplay was completed, they sold it to Twentieth Century Fox, with James L. Brooks set to produce.
       Although Tom Hanks was director Penny Marshall’s first choice for the role of “Josh,” he was unavailable when casting began. Other actors considered for the role included Jeff Bridges and Robert De Niro, according to items in the 30 Jan 1987 DV and 12 Jul 1988 LAHExam. De Niro reportedly turned down an offer of $3 million, having heard that Warren Beatty’s going rate was $6 million. Marshall stated in production notes that the filmmakers “ended up waiting for Tom [Hanks],” who prepared for the role by reviewing videotapes of David Moscow, the actor who played “Young Josh.”
       According to an article in the 8 Jun 1988 LAT, the production budget was $18 million. Principal photography began 10 Aug 1987 in Cliffside Park, NJ. Locations included: Ross Dock Park in Fort Lee, NJ, where filmmakers erected a traveling carnival, rented from the Reithoffer Company, for three days of filming; exteriors in mid-town Manhattan and Times Square in New York City; Englewood, NJ; and Weehawken, NJ.
       As stated in the 8 Jun 1988 LAT article, the film opened in 1,100 theaters with a weekend box-office gross of $8.2 million. A 22 Jul 1988 LAHExam item announced that Big had surpassed Barbra Streisand’s Yentl (1983, see entry) as “the most successful feature film ever directed by a woman.” To that date, Big had taken in $68 million in box-office receipts, while the final box-office gross for Yentl was $38 million. The box-office gross for Big continued to climb, and it grossed $113.6 million domestically and over $40 million internationally by mid-Feb 1989, according to a 17 Feb 1989 HR brief.
       Several reviews, including the 31 May 1988 HR, 3 Jun 1988 LAT, and 3 Jun 1988 NYT reviews, noted the abundance of competing films that had similar body-switching storylines, including Like Father, Like Son (1987, see entry), Vice Versa, and 18 Again! (1988, see entries); however, critics generally agreed that Big stood above the other films, with HR calling it “just plain funny and wonderfully goofy throughout.” Hanks received consistent praise for his performance, and was awarded a Golden Globe for Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. The film received an additional Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, a Writers Guild of America (WGA) award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical.
       At least two lawsuits were brought against the filmmakers, according to 25 Jul 1988 DV and 6 Feb 1991 DV news items. In one, the company Welcome Wagon International claimed that a sexually suggestive line of dialogue from the film infringed on the company’s trademark and damaged the reputation of its female hostesses; the line referred to in the lawsuit was, “She is what we call the company ‘Welcome Wagon.’” In another lawsuit, screenwriter Christopher Fink accused screenwriters Anne Spielberg and Gary Ross of plagiarising his script, Wishful Thinking. Fink claimed that Anne Spielberg’s brother, director Steven Spielberg, had considered his script as a potential project and, therefore, it was likely that Anne had read it. The outcome of both lawsuits could not be determined as of the writing of this note.
       The 16-foot-long Walking Piano seen in the film was specially designed by inventor Remo Saraceni, whose original Walking Piano was only 6½ feet long. A 12 Sep 1988 People news item noted that the Walking Piano experienced an increase in sales after the film was released; prior to its cinematic debut, Saraceni had only sold 100 units, at $3,500 each, but he expected sales to rise to over 3,000 units by Christmas 1988. A 20 Jan 2009 LAT brief reported that the Walking Piano from the film was eventually donated to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, PA, by a couple who purchased the toy after the film’s release.
       A 14 Sep 1994 DV article announced that a musical version of Big was in development, with John Wiedman writing the book, music by David Shire, and lyrics by Richard Maltby. The show was expected to preview in Boston, MA, in summer 1995 before opening on Broadway. The musical premiered in New York City on 28 Apr 1996 at the Shubert Theatre, and closed on 13 Oct 1996.

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   30 Jan 1987.   
Daily Variety   7 Aug 1987   p. 3.
Daily Variety   25 Jul 1989.   
Daily Variety   6 Feb 1991.   
Daily Variety   14 Sep 1994.   
Hollywood Reporter   31 May 1988   p. 3, 38.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Feb 1989.   
LAHExam   12 Jul 1988.   
LAHExam   22 Jul 1988.   
Los Angeles Times   3 Jun 1988   p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   8 Jun 1988   p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   20 Jan 2009   Section E, p. 3.
New York Times   3 Jun 1988   p. 8.
People   12 Sep 1988.   
Variety   1 Jun 1988   p. 13.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.