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Back to the Future (1985)

August 13, 2010

9/10 Gigawatts!

One of the best time travel movies out there and the ultimate go-to when no one can come to a consensus on what the hell to watch.

Back to the Future is about High School kid who just can’t seem to catch a break in his one-horse town, that is until his friend – a mad scientist, naturally – turns a ridiculous sports car into a time machine and accidentally sends him thirty years into the past to the days when his parents were still single. Lo and behold, he ends up altering history, his mom starts hitting on him instead of his dad, and he spends the rest of his short time in the Fifties struggling to get back home and make things right so that his mom will stop trying to get him in the sack.

Man, what’s not to love about this movie? This is right up there with Raiders of the Lost Ark and Ghostbusters in that no matter how much time goes by, no matter how many inferior sequels/remakes get churned out (because, let’s face it, this is totally gonna get remade one day, and probably with Zac Efron), no matter how young, old, masculine, feminine, dead or alive you are, Back to the Future is one of those rare gems that will always be awesome. It’s hard to single out one thing about what’s made this movie so iconic over the years because it’s pretty much a total blast from start to finish, but the best way I can sum this up is that it’s a textbook example of how you make a bangin’ Summer blockbuster without having to sacrifice quality or originality.

And on top of that, it’s working with time travel. What a pain in the ass.

When you consider all the plotholes that a film maker has to be constantly avoiding along with the inevitable meningitis-inducing afterthoughts that come with trying to figure out whether or not the characters will keep going back in time and re-live their lives for all of eternity after everything’s said and done, the genre can tend to be pretty hit-or-miss. You take a movie like Primer and you’re more or less resigned to taking Nyquil on a daily basis just to calm your brain down enough to get a good 2 hours of sleep, but the thing that director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale do well throughout is that they keep it simple. Nothing too tricky, just give it the old A Sound of Thunder treatment, throw in a pimped out time machine and outright refuse to waste a minute with anything that’s going to remotely bore the audience. A solid formula if there ever was one, no idea why it isn’t followed more religiously.

But from the outrageous increase in DeLorean sales that this spurred to the “Flux Capacitor” practically earning its way into Webster’s to every last running gag about the reality of living in the ’80s to the fact that every single actor in this movie will always be remembered as Biff, Doc or one of the McFlys, there’s something almost magical about this movie. It’s just pure fun, it’s like a thrill ride that you just want to get right back on line for as soon as it spits you back out, and even though you know all know all the dips, turns and loops by heart, they’re just as exhilarating as they were that first time over the hill. Heavy, I know, but you gotta love that constant sense of urgency this movie has going for it that pits Marty in one insanely time-constrained and impossible-to-solve situation after another right up until that clock tower bites it.

And the cast really is great. Christopher Lloyd – who has tragically fallen off the face of the Earth – is so freakin’ good as Doc Brown. He’s got that “neurotic Einstein” shtick down pat with those bug eyes and permanently-electrified hair and he’s a perfect opposite to Marty’s too-cool-for-school life preserver and matching Huey-Lewis-is-my-personal-Jesus attitude. Thomas Wilson plays Biff Tannen – the quintessential meathead asshole – to a tee, and Lea Thompson is fantastic as Mary’s mom, Lorraine. But Crispin Glover (aka: Earth’s Creepiest Human) is the man as George McFly. Damn, when he clenches up that fist of his and cold clocks Biff like a total badass outside the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance? You’re a filthy liar if you’ve didn’t cheer out loud during that scene.

And, of course, there’s Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, and what a dreamboat he is. Mike is so damn likable as Marty, he fits the role like a glove (sorry, Eric Stoltz), and like we all didn’t want to just run outside, steal a kid’s skateboard and grab on to the back of the nearest pick up truck as soon this movie ended ’cause of him. God, Michael J. Fox rules.

Man, it blows my mind when I meet people over ten-years-old who still haven’t seen this movie. Not that it’s gonna be any worse if the first time you see it is on your deathbed, but Back to the Future is synonymous with my youth and it’s just as great with each new time I revisit it. Still have no idea have Marty and Doc got together in the first place, but whatever, this movie is a total riot and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable way to spend two hours plopped in front of your TV. It’s not a 10, but it’s close.

Did make for a pretty awesome ride at Universal Studios though.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2010 3:45 am

    MJF is the man and impossible to dislike in this as you say (you seen much of Spin City? I loved that show).

    BTTF is getting a cinema re-release in the UK in October. Can’t. Wait.

    • August 13, 2010 7:52 am

      Spin City was awesome back in the day. What’s not to love about MJF and Cameron from Ferris Bueller in the same show? Charlie Sheen just couldn’t cut it.

      And that is awesome about a re-release. I would TOTALLY see that. Man, that’s totally a movement that needs to go international.

      • August 13, 2010 8:16 am

        Yeah, Spin City lost it’s soul when MJF left, they should have drawn a line there – Bill Lawrence likes to drag his stuff out though (ala Scrubs!).

        Want to see BTTF on the big screen? Get yourself on a flight to Sheffield, UK in October and crash at mine. It would be quite a pricey cinema ticket granted (about $400 I’m guessing), but surely worth it?!

      • August 13, 2010 8:20 am

        Hahaha, there is no better way I could possibly spend $400. I’ll of course keep you posted.

  2. August 13, 2010 5:22 am

    I’d be reaching for one more notch on the ‘out of ten’ score. Love this film. I think it’s perfect. As much as I love the Star Wars (original) trilogy the BTTF films are my favourite sci-fi threesome!

    I love to be able to go back and watch this for the first time. Or, failing that, see it for the first time on the big screen – something I never got to do.

    • August 13, 2010 7:54 am

      Won’t argue the perfect score, homey, I could see myself bumping it up in the future. Would love to see this on the big screen, what a trip that would be.

  3. August 13, 2010 10:27 pm

    Awesome review, dude! I love this movie, and I love reading, thinking, speaking, or doing anything that has to do with this movie.
    And yes, after every time I watch this movie I take a skateboard and ride around looking for pick-up trucks to hold on to… let’s just say that Providence police wasn’t too happy with me riding around Eaton back and forth.

  4. August 15, 2010 3:01 am

    Haha – we’re watching the crappy Ed Burns-starring A Sound of Thunder on SyFy right now. Such a bad flick, but like the Guy Pearce starring Time Machine, I get sucked into time travel flicks.

    The level of detail in this series is just so kickass. One of my favorites – the mall name changes from the Two Pines Mall to the Lone Pine Mall after Marty drives through one of the pines early on.

    Shame – I’ve still never watched #3 all the way mirror.

    • August 16, 2010 8:45 am

      I saw the picture of the Twin Pines/Lone Pine Mall thing recently, and that shit is so effing cool. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen 2 and 3 all the way through, sounds like it’s high time I did.

      And I really do need to see A Sound of Thunder. Sounds so damn bad.

      • September 5, 2012 12:10 pm

        Excellent review. Just thank god they didn’t stick with the original plan of having a time traveling fridge instead of the Delorean!

      • September 5, 2012 12:20 pm

        Thanks! And good lord, never even heard that was an option. Dodged a bullet on that one.

  5. August 16, 2010 3:35 am

    Speaking of the ride, it’s a Simpson’s ride now, but there’s a really neat pre-ride video (animated in Simpsons style) where Doc Brown is about to sign a twenty-year lease on the attraction when Professor Frink accidentally travels back in time and hits him with the Delorean. Even sweeter because Christopher Lloyd voices Doc Brown.

    • August 16, 2010 8:31 am

      hahahaha. i did hear it was a simpsons ride now but i had no idea about the doc brown inclusion. man, sounds like i need to make a trip west.

  6. August 16, 2010 1:27 pm

    Does anyone else thinks its weird that the McFly’s would choose to use the guy that tried to rape Lorraine as their auto-detailer?

    or is it just me?

    • SamB permalink
      September 1, 2010 12:25 am

      Basically, after George punches him, he becomes their slave. I’m not exactly sure how that works, but there you go!

      • September 1, 2010 2:35 pm

        A damn fine explanation if there ever was one.

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