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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Big (1988)

Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks) is a child in an adult’s body, attending the dinner party of Phil (John Rothman) and Karen (Susan Wilder). Their son, Adam (Judd Trichter) comes in looking for help on his homework.
ADAM: Dad. I Need some help with my algbera.
PHIL: Ah, not now Adam.
ADAM: Yeah, but Dad you said…
PHIL: Adam, we have guests.
Adam sighs, and goes to his room.
KAREN (to her guests): He’s had the roughest time with algebra. We’ve tried tutors, everything.
JOSH: With algebra? I used to study that too.
Josh leaves the table to go help Adam.
KAREN: Oh, isn’t that nice?
The scene is now in Adam’s room.
JOSH: Alright, let’s say Larry Bird’s gonna score ten points in the first quarter.
JOSH: How many is he gonna score in the whole game?
ADAM: That’s easy. That’s forty points.
JOSH: Probably, O.K. And that’s algebra.
ADAM: Right….Wait, it is?
JOSH: Yeah, see. One quarter is to ten points that he scores in that quarter, just as four quarters in the whole game is to Y or X, or whatever it is you’re looking for.
ADAM (understanding): Oh!