Back to the Future [Time Travel Week]

“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need… roads.”

The Scoop: 1985 PG, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson

Tagline: 17 year old Marty McFly got home early last night. 30 years early.

Summary Capsule: Teen brings the 80’s to the 50’s, makes out with his mom, and invents rock ‘n roll

Justin’s Rating: An ice-cold tall glass of plutonium to go, please!
Justin’s Review: Back to the Future is (in my opinion) what the eighties was all about. Cool gadgets. Cooler cars. Skateboards (those are back in style lately, aren’t they?). Hot babes. Antagonistic adults. A killer soundtrack (both the score and some great Huey Lewis tunes). Upturned collars. Neon colors. And the best part is — most of this film takes place in 1955!

Back to the Future is the little tale of one Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), your average high school rock player who happens to have a mad scientist as a best friend. As do we all. The scientist in question is Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), who has — why not? — invented the time machine and put it in the fast-extinct DeLorean. Through a short series of accidents, Marty travels from 1985 back to 1955, bumps into his parents, and accidently splits up their initial meeting. To ensure his very survival in existence, Marty must get his geeky dad to hook up with his hot mom (Lea Thompson), who has a disturbing crush on her son. Oedipus Complex, please exit the bus. It’s okay, the whole time paradox-thing is well explained so that you will spend more time just enjoying the movie instead of scratching your head.

Sure, it’s a fish out of water movie, and there’s a certain kick to watching Marty bring his world-savvy 1985 culture to the past. But even more entertaining is the cross-overs between the past and the future. Most characters do multiple roles as their older and younger selves, and that’s just a hoot. A hoot. There are so many references (particularly in relation to cause-and-effect events) that it takes multiple viewings to get them all. For instance, you see a van (in 1985) advertising for Mayor Wilson; when Marty travels back to 1955, he bumps into the past version of Wilson and gives him the idea to run for mayor. It’s incredibly neat to see the old and new version of Hill Valley, and a lot of attention was paid to making sure all the details were in place. And even by today’s standards, the special effects are pretty kewl (say that with a slight twang), even though this film has less time traveling than the two sequels.

The story itself is both charming and comedic. It’d be hard to pick just one character as a favorite, but George McFly (Crispin Glover, who plays three versions of his character) definitely stands out. His intense shyness, breathless voice, and cackling laughter creates one of the most memorable geeky characters in movie history… and you’re cool in my book if you can quote him accurately. Doc Brown is manic enough in his speeches, but look to him for his exaggerated facial expressions.

Sure, if you think about it long enough, you can easily pick out the glaring inconsistencies of time travel (an idea well-explored and thought-out, but not perfected in these movies) and it would be easy for you strict realists to pee your pants in anger at the amount of suspension of belief that you’ll have to endure watching this film (Lybian terrorists just happen to find them in the middle of the night? Marty starts the rock ‘n roll genre? One just fades out of existence instead of instantly disappearing?). But it’s good science fiction concept that’s treated with a great story and terrific actors, and nearly impossible to hate. Plus, who wouldn’t want a car that can travel back to the eighties? Probably most of America, but I honestly miss Max Headroom.

Andie’s Rating: 1.21 jigawatts
Andie’s Review: Back to the Future is one of my all-time favorite movies! I really can’t say enough about it. It’s hysterically funny, it has a good plot, and it’s just an all around entertaining movie. I should know, I’ve seen it about a 100 times.

I assume everybody knows the premise, so I won’t go into details. There’s no way you got out of the 80s without seeing this movie unless you lived under a rock or something. What’s so great about it is that it’s just so gosh darn clever. All the references to the future back in 1955 are like private little inside jokes between us and Marty McFly. Also, I don’t care how old Michael J Fox was, he was still a total cutie patootie and will forever in my eyes be Marty McFly. Christopher Lloyd will also always be Doc for me. I also highly recommend the soundtrack, it is jam packed full of awesome songs, including Power of Love, Earth Angel, and Johnny B Goode.

This movie can be watched over and over again and still be just as good as the first time. I also am a big fan of the sequels and my reviews for those will be coming along shortly. But for now, go be a kid again and settle down in your pajamas with some popcorn and watch Back to the Future.

Special Note: Before coming to work for MRFH, Andie wrote an abridged script for Back to the Future at The Editing Archive, which you can see here.

Kyle’s Rating: They reached for tomorrow, but tomorrow’s more of the same. So they reached for tomorrow, but tomorrow never came.
Kyle’s Review: I can very clearly recall my parents bringing me to see Back to the Future when it opened in the theaters. It was fresh, it was cool, it taught me very early in life that important lesson some never learn: being a musician gets you boobies. As goofy as Marty was, he played the guitar (kind of) and he snagged a very nice babe. And that was before the past was changed and Marty’s family wasn’t cool and all. Music is powerful stuff indeed.

BTTF, the first one at least, has stayed fantastic through the years. Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd make a perfect pair, and they get along so well you never doubt that a young kid and an old dude would be hanging out together. The culture shock Marty deals with in the past points out just how different then was from now, and Marty’s parents are amusing in any time period. It says something about this film’s unique charm that even after seeing this movie enough times to effortlessly repeat all the dialogue from memory if necessary, I still always wonder if Doc Brown is going to get everything plugged in before the lightning strikes. Can he make it in time? Ahhhhhh!

But barring all of that, any film with a couple of great songs by Huey Lewis and the News is going to get heavy rotation in my VCR. Can I get some woo hoos for music by the News? Woo hoo! Woo hoo! Go Marty! Doctor Who is still the greatest time travel yarn every spun, but this gives it the great old American try!

Mom, son, and millions of twisted internet erotica writers sit on the edge of this bed.

Intermission!

  • The intro, with near-silence and a long pan, is one of the most excellent and original ways to introduce the characters (without showing them) and the setting
  • “Plutonium: Handle With Care” hah!
  • What experiment has to do with setting clocks back 25 minutes?
  • The jeep driver’s Mountain Dew cap cracks me up in its blatant advertising
  • BttF1 Jennifer is hotter than 2 and 3’s Jen. Scientific fact.
  • It’s never good to scope out chicks in front of your girlfriend
  • Everyone wants a 4×4
  • George likes his peanut brittle.
  • Check out the ancient Diet Pepsi can Marty has!
  • Girls chasing boys is terrible indeed… what will it ever amount to?
  • There’s a surprising amount of exposition and setup involved in the first twenty minutes, but it’s all fairly well disguised as plot
  • Marty has an unusual sleeping position
  • Doc knows how to make an entrance
  • Lybian terrorists carry am awful lot of weaponry in their vans, don’t they?
  • Purple underwear is weird for guys
  • Van Halen can be used for manipulative purposes
  • There’s a picture of man hanging from a clock in Doc Brown’s 1985 place, foreshadowing the end of the film
  • JC Penny seems to be the only store at that mall
  • The “main street” is the same one used in Gremlins
  • The theatre in 1955 is showing a double bill: “A Boy’s Life” (the working title for Steven Spielberg’s E.T.), and “Watch the Skies” (the working title for Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind).
  • The episode of The Honeymooners that Lorraine’s family watch wasn’t shown until 31st December, 1955, yet is seen in November 1955.
  • As Marty walks down Main Street in 1955, “Mr. Sandman” is playing. This song was not released until 1958.
  • The first time the car is sent through time with Einstein, it comes back iced over. In all subsequent time traveling the car never gets iced over.
  • The two drinks Marty asks for in the diner (a Tab and a Pepsi Free) are out of date by today’s standards (you can see a can of Pepsi Free on Marty’s headboard)
  • Huey Lewis plays the band judge who says to Marty “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud.”
  • Back to the Future was never designed to have a sequel. Only when it became hugely massive did the filmmakers add the “To Be Continued” to the end of the video version (but that was never seen in the theatrical release). The filmmakers said if they had envisioned this being the first movie of a trilogy, they would not have had Jennifer get into the car with them to go into the future.
  • Michael J Fox had to learn how to skateboard for this film
  • Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly, but changed because he didn’t act enough like a teenager. When Michael J. Fox was cast, his costume was completely revamped.

Groovy Quotes

George: Yes! Yes! I’m George, George McFly! I’m your density. I mean… your destiny.
George: Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn’t take Lorraine out that he’d melt my brain.

Marty: Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?
Doc Brown: The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?

George: Lou! Give me a milk… [dramatic pause] Chocolate!

Doc Brown: Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need… roads.

Doc Brown: 1.21 gigawatts! 1.21 gigawatts!
Marty: What the hell’s a gigawatt?

Strickland: No McFly ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley.
Marty: Yeah, well history is gonna change.

Carruthers: Are you gonna order something kid?
Marty: Uh yeah. Gimme a Tab.
Carruthers: A tab? I can’t give ya a tab unless ya order something.
Marty: Alright, gimme a Pepsi Free.
Carruthers: If you want a Pepsi pal, you’re gonna pay for it.
Marty: Uhhh, just gimme something without any sugar.

Marty: Uh, do you know where Riverside Drive is?
Mr. Baines: It’s on the other end of town, a block past Maple. East end of town.
Marty: Wait a minute, a block past Maple? That’s John F Kennedy Drive.
Mr. Baines: Who the hell is John F Kennedy?

George: But I’ve never picked a fight in my entire life.
Marty: You’re not gonna be pickin a fight dad!….dad….dad…daddio.

Marty: Oh, one other thing. If you guys ever have kids and one of ’em, when he’s eight years old, accidentally sets fire to the living room rug…go easy on him.

Kid: It’s already mutated into human form, shoot it!

George: Lorraine, my density has bought me to you.
Lorraine: What?
George: Oh, what I meant to say was…
Lorraine: Wait a minute, don’t I know you from somewhere?
George: Yes! Yes! I’m George, George McFly! I’m your density. I mean… your destiny.

Doc Brown: Next Saturday night, we’re sending you back to the future!

Marty: Then where the hell are they?!
Doc Brown: The appropriate question is WHEN the hell are they!

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30 Comments

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