Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Come Back, Penny Marshall

A few weeks ago, my father had hip replacement surgery, which coupled with his fairly recent double knee replacement surgery places him on the list to become the next bionic man within the next five to ten years. Pretty rad.

Anyway, I’ve spent the past few weekends going to visit him just watching sports, or playing games, or watching movies, or whatever else to help him pass the time. One of the movies we watched together was 1988’s comedy classic “Big”, which is one of those films I’d seen tens of times as a kid, but hadn’t seen recently in its entirety for roughly ten years. It was great watching it again and it reminded me so much of my childhood. I think I even started getting the idea to become a business major as a direct result of this film. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a sweet office in Manhattan and make a ton of money for just playing with toys? Oddly enough, it took another film for me to begin to realize how wrong the business profession was for me, Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street”. I think I was way more freaked out by that film than I was engrossed by "Big".

But watching “Big” again got me thinking about the fact that the comedy, as a film, has drastically changed over the years as we see more and more films go the route of the quick-witted, overly clever, shockingly hysterical, and sometimes utter nonsensical joke that might be funny once or twice, but loses its luster quickly. Meanwhile, we are seeing less and less of the dramatic comedies that are much more subtle. They don’t force a joke down your throat every twenty seconds and they don’t need to use overtly sexual references to keep your interest. They merely ask you to find humor in simple truths that do not need to be explained in detail. They just make sense because we’re all human and we somehow inherently relate to the characters in one way or another. “Big” will always be one of those pictures for me and it remains one of my favorite comedies of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve laughed hardest in my life in some of the more recent comedies, particularly the films of Judd Apatow, but they will never hold a candle to this gem directed by Penny Marshall (who also directed two other great comedies, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "A League Of Their Own"). For few of those films include such a brilliant, touching, and beautiful scene as this one. Call me a sap, or sentimental, or whatever but it’s scenes like this one that separate the men from the boys. Literally, and figuratively, I suppose.


  1. Oh a classic for sure! Your mother and I were there one year and played a few notes ourselves~

  2. Matt - great initial post and excellent movie. We were talking movies over lunch today and two Michael Keaton classics came up Mr. Mom and Night Shift.

    Saw The Kids are Alright - not a music movie - catch it if you can.