Begins as a strange tale of two '90s teenagers who then get transported into a 1950's sitcom, but not only do they quietly change, all the characters in their world, also change because of their presence, but figuratively as people and literally as their world changes from black-and-white to color, simultaneously commenting both on modern culture, the supposedly idyllic past, and even challenges the media perceptions of us against our realities. He's since strayed a bit more from fantasy but still, a car dealership owner becoming a race horse owner in "Seabiscuit", a rat who strives to learn more about the human world in "The Tale of Despereaux", even in "The Hunger Games", while people criticized him about the action scenes limited by too many jump cuts and jerky handheld direction, which, fine true, but I never cared either way, 'cause what he did well, was the character development as they go from their far-off district and into this competitive world media-focused event-based world, and how the events change them. (Huh, I guess "The Hunger Games" has more in common with "Pleasantville" than it first seems, although it's still just nothing more than a professional wrestling storyline but still....) You see, everybody else involved with the movie went elsewhere, but this was definitely a film more in-line with Gary Ross's later work and with "Big".
So why "Big" hold up so well, it can't just be because Tom Hanks became the biggest star in the world, or that we all just love the scene with him about Robert Loggia in the toy store playing piano. Well, for one thing, we love body switching stories. The original "Freaky Friday", at least in the modern time, although it's definitely not a new concept then. but the joke with those movies that use the trick that two-people are switched, from "Vice-Versa" to "Face/Off" even, is that, we're seeing one actor person act like someone else, and then they switch back, walking a mile in someone else's shoes. That's not what happens in "Big" though, it's the world of a 12-year-old, who then becomes a 30-year-old. He's first a child in a man's outfit, he's then got to adjust to living in the adult world, while being a kid, and experiencing more adult things, like work, sex, relationships, and then, when given the option, becoming a kid again, now having had the experience. The obvious parallel now we could see, could be puberty itself, or growing up in general. His kid-like naivete works in the beginning, getting a job at a toy factory, even coming up with an idea for Transformers that's 100 times "Transformers" ever were, even before Michael Bay got ahold of that, finger quotes, "Franchise", and he excels, but when he's become to much of an adult, he then starts to stumble at work. This is all one character remember, and for the most part one performance. Tom Hanks got his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor for "Big", and I think it's arguably his best performance ever. He nails the fun parts of being a kid, as well as the frightening scared scenes about being a kid, and the gleeful ignorant transition into the adult world, and then the way he slowly becomes more adult. It's one character, turning into another, not just switching roles. That's the other major reason this genre exists, this is a subgenre made for great actors to show off their talents. Kids playing adults, as well as adults portraying kids usually different characters, usually in some kind of comedy; these are tough roles for even the best actors, that's another reason Hanks should get more credit for "Big", you ask some people about great overlooked performance, you'll eventually run into somebody who'll note someone like Barbara Harris for "Freaky Friday", or Jamie Lee Curtis for the remake, I might add Fred Savage in "Vice-Versa". arguably his best performance in a film.
Admittedly, as much as I admire "Big" more and more the older I get, but the film works better when you’re young, since we're more willing to be caught up in the magic of it all, but that said, "Big" is clearly the best of the subgenre, not just because it was the smartest and best take on it, but because it just has really talented people doing their best to tell this story way better than, probably it ever should've been. It's a quirky funny, silly movie about a kid who turns into an adult and back again that launched a lot of great careers and shockingly still holds up and is remembered almost thirty years later.