More than a silly comedy about a child suddenly coming to grasps with the implications of being an adult overnight, Penny Marshall’s Big is more about how adults tend to forget how to let loose, have fun and enjoy life’s little gifts.
The message is at its most resonant when Josh, one of Tom Hanks most charming roles, and MacMillan, played by the equally likeable Robert Loggia, walk into FAO Schwarz, the famous toy store in New York City.
Despite being the CEO of a toy company, MacMillan is as lost inside FAO as a kid in a lawyer’s office. This is until Josh encourages him to try playing the big piano with him.
The scene of the two of them having a good ol’time playing “Chopsticks” is the clearest demonstration of the film’s enduring message and incredibly charming characters. What we see is two actors that are really enjoying the moment, smiling uncontrollably and forgetting, if only for a brief moment, the world around them.
To this day, the big piano sits at FAO Swarz as a testament to the rich history of the store and the worldwide appeal of Big’s most recognized scene. There is no doubt that most adults who wait in line for a chance to play think of Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia jumping around from key to key as fast as they could.
Here is a recent video of Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks on BBC’s “The Jonathan Ross Show” attempting to replay the same feat:
And a bit of trivia:
Did you know that the film had in hand two body doubles for Hanks and Loggia for the scene?. When the two actors noticed the plan, they decided to practice until they got the whole thing down, hence why, if you look carefully, the crowd behind them changes as they attempt the scene over and over again.
Click on best moments in film history to see my entries so far. Comments more than welcome of course!