I want to preface this post by saying that I thoroughly enjoy this film. But, one of the main things that happens in this film is a 13-year-old boy, who is in the body of a man, sleeps with a co-worker, an adult woman. Let that sink in. That is a thing that happens in this beloved film.
It is always important, I think, to watch films through different lenses, especially films that you enjoy. For instance, when rewatching Big this time, I applied today’s societal standards and morals to the film. And, in doing that, I discovered that this film can be very troubling.
The entire romantic subplot in this film could have been toned down. A lot. In no way, shape, or form did the character of Josh have to sleep with Elizabeth Perkins’ character, Susan. That did not have to happen. A kiss could have happened. That still would have been creepy after the fact, but better than implying that the two had sex. After the two, presumably, have sex, Josh no longer acts like a child. He’s a man. And that’s just a tiring trope in film.
Honestly, this film is just filled with a lot of tiring tropes that have not aged well. Besides “sex turns a boy into a man”, we have “women working too hard at company parties and being told to drink to loosen up” and we have “the woman has broken up with the awful man and has gone from wearing all dark colors to all light colors, to show there’s been a change”. Yawn.
Does anybody else think that Susan does not react accordingly when she sees for herself Josh turn into a 13-year-old boy? Because I definitely do. Her reactions should have absolutely been more along these lines:
Instead, she acts sentimental, almost. And it is so goddamn disturbing. Honestly, that reaction is the most unrealistic thing in this film. Well, that and Josh being able to work his way up in a company in two months with literally no experience with what he is doing.
Do me a favor? Reverse these roles for a moment. Make it the female who grows big. Watch the film with that in mind and tell me that wouldn’t have caused an uproar. People would have had a fit.
Remember, the first thing I stated was that I thoroughly enjoy this film. And I still do. But, had I not watched the film through a different lens, I may not have realized how problematic this film actually is. And, this is when watching movies becomes tough. Do you watch films with the mindset of the current time or with the mindset of the time the film was created? Because, if the latter is the case, then that makes 1915s Birth of a Nation a totally okay film. Which just feels wrong to me.