- Title: Back to the Future
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Date: 1985
- Studio: Universal
- Genre: SF, Comedy
- Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover
- Format: Color, Widescreen
- DVD Format: NTSC, R1
“The appropriate question is – ‘When the hell are they?’ ” — Doc Brown
“Are you telling me, you built a time machine – out of a DeLorean?” – Marty McFly
One of my favorite films that I remember seeing in the 1980s. I even had a copy on VHS tape for awhile. When it came to getting the movies on DVD, though, I had the worst luck (and I’m still missing the third film).
Back to the Future combines good special effects (meaning competent), humor, and great characters in an excellent story. There are also threads of deeper meaning – such as the importance of self-confidence and the need to believe in one’s self and one’s own talents and dreams – and the importance of standing up for oneself against bullies. For example, Doc Brown believes so much in his time machine, he spends everything he has to realize his dream. Whereas – Marty and George McFly both have the same lack of self-confidence and fear of rejection that prevents them from following their dreams – George’s dream to be a writer and Marty’s to be a musician/rock star.
The odd thing about watching the film now is that the scenes in the “present” – 1985 – at times seem oddly anachronistic (Marty’s cassette-tape walkman for example; or the sheer size of his video camera); whereas the scenes in the 1950s don’t, because that feels more like a historical film. However, the film doesn’t feel dated because of the great characters. And, of course, the humor works extremely well to keep the film entertaining and fresh like it was when it came out.
The basic plot is as follows: Marty (Michael J. Fox) is a “typical” American teenager – he has a girlfriend, problems with his folks and family, and problems at school. His best friend is an eccentric inventor named Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Marty meets up with Brown at a local shopping mall in the middle of the night, where Brown demos his newest invention – a working time machine. However, one of the components needed to kick-start the electrical generator in the time machine is plutonium – which Brown steals from some Libyan terrorists. During the experiments – they show up, Doc Brown is killed, and Marty jumps in the time machine to escape (it is, after all, a sports car). Marty arrives in 1955, where he accidentally prevents his parents from meeting. He must then get them back together, and help Doc Brown to find a way to return the time machine (and himself) to the future. Due to some changes in how George (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine (Lea Thompson) meet, get together, and fall in love, when Marty returns to the future – he finds his life slightly changed, for the better.
This film has a lot of detail and craft found in three different eras (1985 before Marty time travels, 1955, and 1985 after Marty time travels) – set dressing, costumes, and the locations of downtown Hill Valley, Marty’s home, and Twin Pines / Lone Pine Mall. It also, ironically, has a device relatively common in 1985 used for time travel (the DeLorean) that almost immediately thereafter disappeared (The car was a flop). This, by pure coincidence, is like the TARDIS in Doctor Who – based on the once common-place police box, now almost solely identified with time travel and an SF TV show.
The performances are also great. Michael J. Fox is wonderful as the breathless, panicky, lacking in self-confidence Marty McFly. Christopher Lloyd is great as the eccentric, slightly nuts, Doc Emmet Brown. And both Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson do a really good job playing three different versions of Marty’s parents.
Recommendation: See it!
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Next Film: Back to the Future Part II