When I was a kid I wanted to have sex with women, but most of them wouldn’t let me. I thought, “Man, I wish I could skip all this growing up shit and get right to the screwing and cocaine.” To pass the time, I put all my fantasies on paper and wrote the screenplay for Big (and Bachelor Party…and Happiness).
Josh (played by a young Micheal Cera) is a boy who constantly gets told that he’s a boy. Like most boys, this irritates the boy out of him. One night he goes to the county fair where boys can feel like young men by going upside down in carnival rides without wetting their pants and crying for mommy. But when he approaches such a ride the carny tells him, “No dice.”
“But it says I’m tall enough to ride!” he exclaims.
The carny looks him over again. “Yeah, but your face makes you look shorter. No dice. In fact, no gambling at all on account of your yute.”
All pissed off, he immediately goes to a broken down wish making machine. “I wish that fucking carny were dead.” Two seconds later the ferris wheel falls over and flattens the carny like a greasy pancake. Josh’s eyes light up. “Holy shit!” he thinks. “This muthafucka work!” Obviously, his next wish is to be BIG. He expects it to happen right away, but after ten minutes of watching police pull pieces of dead people out of the crumbled ferris wheel, Josh hasn’t grown at all. In retaliation, he breaks open the machine’s display window and pisses inside of it. So childish!
But when he wakes up the next morning, things have changed. He no longer fits in his bed. He no longer fits in his clothes. He no longer likes The Doors. He’s become an adult! Like a kid in a candy store he runs to the bathroom to check himself out in the mirror. Hey! He looks like Tom Hanks. Not too shabby! But the BIGGEST surprise comes when he checks out his new wiener: it didn’t change a bit. Revenge of the wish making machine.
He goes downstairs to show his mom how awesome he’s become, but she mistakes him for her drunken one night stand from the night before. When she starts kissing him and grabbing his junk, he runs out of the house, terrified and confused about his half-boner.
Josh has a friend named Rudy or Randy or whatever people name redheaded bullies these days. Since he can’t go back home now, he tries to get this kid to hang out with him. Rudy is resistant because kids don’t usually hang out with strange adults unless they’re looking to see the Director’s Cut of Mystic River. Josh convinces him by singing the little song and dance they came up with in their younger gayer days. Now that Rudy is on his side, the next course of action is obvious: beer, cigars, porno and lottery tickets!
Josh rents a grimy New York party pad for his new adult adventures. But after a couple of days, he’s completely broke. “We’re all out of Zima. Looks like I have to get a job.” Rudy wants no part in it. “Call me when you get more dough. I gotta go to school.” After Rudy leaves, Josh begins to wonder if getting BIG was a mistake because now he’s all alone in a BIG city he doesn’t understand. As he thinks this, a prostitute gets stabbed to death right in front of him. Then a bum takes a leak on her dead body. Then the bum gets hit by a bus. Then the bus gets blown up by the mob. Then the mob gets taken out by The Punisher. All this stuff freaks Josh out even worse, and he runs to bed crying like a BIG baby.
He is still pretty frazzled the next morning, so instead of looking for a job, he tries to reconnect with his childhood by visiting a toystore. It feels good to play with other kids again, but the feeling gets cut short when he is ejected from the store for being a possible pedophile. An elderly man with a voice like the surface of Mars is also getting kicked out. The two strike up a conversation. “Bastards! I wasn’t gonna touch kids. I was just doing research for my toy making company,” the old man growls.
“Uh…me too,” Josh guesses.
“Really? You’ve got the dedication of a younger me. Why don’t you come work for an older me?” And with that, Josh’s financial woes are taken care of forever. Just like in real life.
So he gets the absolute dream job for a boy dressed like a man: playing with toys and telling people which toys suck, which toys are awesome, and which toys suck but might be fun to blow up with firecrackers. Josh is so good at his job that he’s been promoted five times by the end of the first week. The crappy apartment in Dangerousville gets traded up for a sweet high-rise pad over in White(exceptforservants)ville. The new apartment is filled with everything he ever wanted: bunk beds, a soda dispenser, a trampoline, an arcade, and four of the New Kids on the Block (he never liked Danny’s weird face).
His success has other consequences as well. This forty year old lady in his office named Susan has noticed that he makes more money than her current office fella, Paul. Quickly she dumps Paul and starts putting moves on Josh. It’s not an easy match because whenever she’s talking about sex, her words go through his innocence filter and come out harmless. A good example would be the scene where he buys her a pearl necklace she asked for. “Uh, that’s not what I meant, but thank you,” she says, disappointed. Normally, she’d assume he’s gay and get over it, but he refuses to shop with her and he’s messy as fuck when he eats.
Nevertheless, she keeps trying because this is the 80’s and you gotta get your piece of the pie somehow. One night he invites her to sleep over and she thinks they might actually do it, but he just wants to jump on the trampoline and show off his videogames. When he talks about being “on top” he’s referring to the bunk beds.
She’s pretty much given up hope for the night. But then he says he wants to play He-Man and gives her a sexy TeeLa outfit to wear. When she comes out of the bathroom she’s the spitting image of his favorite toy. In that instant, he suddenly understands sex and why it’s so much better than pinball.
He and Susan are married the next day, or they would be if Josh had a driver’s license or birth certificate or any kind of proof that he exists at all. In fact, Susan’s old fella Paul has been snooping around about Josh, and finds that his DNA matches a middle school kid who recently disappeared. Immediately he calls the FBI weirdo department, and Mulder and Scully come to take Josh away forever. Susan is charged with statutory rape. Josh’s mother throws him a funeral, convinced that her little boy’s body will never be found.
You know, I’ve always considered this movie to be an extended Tales From the Crypt episode.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey