Iconic Images: Big (1988)

There are few things from 1980s American cinema as joyful as seeing Tom Hanks play Chopsticks on a over-sized piano! This shot evokes wonderful memories of Penny Marshall’s heartwarming coming-of-age story…


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Penny Marshall’s 1988 film Big was one of several body-swap comedies in the 1980s, a genre that became very popular during the period. You might have seen Brian Gilbert’s entertaining Vice-Versa starring Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage also from 1988 or the much less successful movies Like Father Like Son and 18 Again but few would argue against Big being the best of the lot. Tom Hanks stars as 12-year-old Josh Baskin who wishes to be “big” after being refused a ride on a rollercoaster because of his height. The next morning he wakes up to discover he is in an adult’s body, suddenly finding himself having to fend for himself in the big city when his mother, unsurprisingly, believes him to be an imposter. The film is funny and heartwarming with a touching message at its core – that we mustn’t forget to enjoy childhood (and the adventure that is growing up)…it’s the only one we get!

Discover More: Check out our dedicated 1980s movie page!

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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    jjames36 Reply

    Amen, both on the image and the film in general. Definitely one of my favorite comedies, this one.

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    Jaina Reply

    Excellent choice here. Such an iconic film. So many films since have tried to reproduce the same themes but nothing has hit the high notes as well as Big.

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    Chris Reply

    A great scene from a great movie! They actually reenacted that moment with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bulluck using a giant piano on Jonathan Ross show, I think you can find it on youtube.
    There is a director’s cut version of the film I still haven’t seen.

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