Back to the Future (1985)


You Tryin’ to Tell Me that You Built a Time Machine … Out of a DeLorean?

I cannot go very long in my life without watching today’s movie, and subsequently it’s two sequels. Though the first one came out in 1985, they still hold up as some of my favorite movies – and possibly my favorite trilogy – of all time. I know that sort of spoils the review, but I don’t care. I cannot even act like it’s a possibility that I don’t like these movies. And so, without further ado, let’s get into my review of Back to the Future, written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson, Claudia Wells, Wendie Jo Sperber, Marc McClure, James Tolkan, and Billy Zane.

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is a regular high school slacker. Before school one day, he goes to the house of his friend, scientist Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd), to blow up his giant speaker. He gets a call from the Doc as he’s leaving, asking him to come to the Twin Pines Mall the next morning. He meets up with his girlfriend, Jennifer (Claudia Wells), with whom he talks about their plans for the weekend, but upon returning home, Marty’s plans are dashed by the fact that the car he was to pick up Jennifer in has been totaled. He goes inside to find the culprit, Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson), bullying Marty’s father, George (Crispin Glover), into taking responsibility for the accident. Marty’s mother, Lorraine (Lea Thompson), comes home later and bores the family with the story of how she met their father when her father hit him with a car, and how later they fell in love when they kissed at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. Marty goes to see Doc at the intended time and finds out that the Doc has created a time machine out of a DeLorean, one that is powered by Plutonium that the Doc stole from Libyan terrorists. Their meeting is interrupted by the Libyans, who shoot down the Doc. Marty panics and jumps into the DeLorean. In the ensuing chase, Marty speeds up to 88 mph and is transported back in time from October 26th, 1985 to November 5th, 1955. While here, he runs into a younger version of his father trying to spy on an undressing girl, when George falls into the street and into the path of a car. Marty shoves George out of danger, but gets hit by the car himself. He wakes up in the room of Lorraine Baines, later Lorraine Baines McFly and Marty’s mother. Marty leaves and finds the Doc from 1955 and convinces him to help get him back to 1985, but there’s a problem: Marty inadvertently kept his parents from meeting, which would put a damper on his plans of being born one day. Marty has to set things straight while still figuring out how he can get himself back to the future.

This is a fantastic movie as well as being the fantastic beginning to a fantastic trilogy. I think I love everything about this movie. The story is great and well thought out, jumping back and forth in time with scarcely a logic loophole to be found. It pulls off some great, suspenseful action scenes, it lands a great love story, and throws in a great deal of comedy as well. There are a good amount of action scenes in the movie, from the chase with the Libyan terrorists to the race against the clock to get George and Lorraine together and get Marty back in time to catch a lightning bolt, but to me, the best action scene is when George wins Lorraine on his own. Marty was trying to engineer a fight between himself and George to get George to impress Lorraine, but when Biff intervened, George had to decide between fight or flight to basically keep Lorraine from being raped by Biff, and he made the right choice on his own, ending with him knocking Biff out with one punch and getting the girl. That scene still gives me goosebumps, even though I know the movie so well at this point I could practically recite it. I think what keeps me interested in this movie is looking for the hidden things that they throw into the movie to show the results of time travel. The biggest and most obvious one was that the name of the Twin Pines Mall was changed to Lone Pine Mall, because Marty drove over one of the pines when escaping from the farmer’s house in 1955. In the part with the Libyans, the Doc uses a six-shooter because, as he says in Part 2, he’s “always wanted to visit the old west.” Granted, they didn’t know there would be a sequel or a part three when making this movie, but they used it. The same could be said for when the Doc says that he can go forward in time and find out who wins the next couple of World Series games, which leads to the Sports Almanac in Part 2. There’s also a little Harold Lloyd figure hanging from a clock in the beginning of the movie, foreshadowing the Doc hanging from the clock in the end of the movie. I love finding these things in movies, and a movie with time travel in it opens it up for this stuff. Another thing they do a lot in these movies is showing how history repeats itself. The conversation between grown up Biff and George is exactly like the conversation between younger Biff and George, exchanging reports for work with homework. Marty and George even sit with their hand on their head in the same way when in the diner, helping us jump on board to them being related. You see a lot more of this stuff in Part 2 though. If I was going to point out something I thought was off about the story of this movie, it would be that it’s never explained how a high school kid is such good friends with a 60 something year old scientist. I thought of an explanation though: that the Doc became friends with the McFly family because he knew Marty would be around one day, and he had already been introduced to Lorraine so he had an in.

Graphically, the movie holds up almost entirely. There was one part in the movie where the DeLorean disappears, leaving those awesome fire trails going beneath Marty and the Doc, where you can see that the lighting on Lloyd and Fox doesn’t really match up and they were probably green-screened in, but who gives a shit? This movie is amazing. And the DeLorean itself is awesome. I know for a fact that if I was of driving age when this movie came out, I would definitely have tried to get a DeLorean. I don’t know how sales in DeLorean’s didn’t jump up drastically because of this movie, which I assume they didn’t because that company isn’t still around. I also read online that the creator of the DeLorean, John DeLorean (which is his real name even though it sounds like I made it up and didn’t try very hard to do so), sent Zemeckis a fan letter because of this movie. And why wouldn’t he? They made this car one of the most famous vehicles in history! All of the other graphics hold up nicely too. The recreation of Hill Valley in both 1985 and 1955 was fantastic. Everything looked similar and seemed to have a story to tell about how it had changed over the years. 1955 really captured what I think 1955 would be like. In fact, this movie probably stands as the example in my brain of what 1955 was like since I have no other information about it. I also think the music still holds up from this movie. Yeah, the Huey Lewis music is basically two songs used in different ways throughout the movie, and they’re clearly 80’s music, but I still like ’em. They use Mr. Sandman and Earth Angel once they get to 1955, which set the mood for the 50’s well. Then you throw in some awesome Johnny B. Goode at the end, but kind of make me like the song less because I had no idea that Chuck Berry just stole that song from Marty. Bad form, Chuck! The best stuff in the movie is the orchestral themes used. A lot of the orchestral stuff is two or three songs reused, but they change them up to fit the emotion of the scene. Plus, they’re amazing.

The performances in this movie are sublime. I will pretty much love every single person associated with this movie forever. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd especially. Michael J. Fox was so good in this movie. He played it for comedy most of the time and pulled it off fantastically. He had just as many action scenes, which he pulled off equally as well. He didn’t have too many emotional things to pull of here, though. He did a fantastic job of being very uncomfortable with what was going on when his mom was coming on to him. This performance makes it acceptable that a mother is coming on to her son because she’s not aware of it and he’s very uncomfortable with it. Christopher Lloyd was also fantastic as the eccentric Doc Brown. He was mostly played for comedy and exposition, but he was a super interesting character with fantastic personality. My favorite part about him was all the funny entrances he got to do, like when we first see him in 1955 with that giant device on his head. His wide-eyed expression was amazing. I’m pretty sure I fell in love with Lea Thompson because of this movie, and that still goes on today. She was so hot in 1955. I’d take a crack at that, even today and even though she’s 20 years my senior. Crispin Glover was as strange a character as he usually does, but still oddly appealing somehow. The best part about Thompson and Glover was how drastically their performances changed for the same character in different eras. Original 1985 versions of them are much older and downtrodden, somewhat beaten up by life but still sticking together, back in the past they were youthful, and Thompson was very cute and awkward, though not nearly as much as Glover, and in new 1985 at the end, they were older, but much more happy with each other and life. Thomas F. Wilson plays such a good antagonist in these movies that I would have a nagging hatred of him in the back of my mind, no matter how nice he might be in real life. He towers over almost everyone in the movie, has a semi-constant sneer on his face, but is also really stupid and cannot deliver cliche’s correctly. All of these people are amazing.

The reviews for the next few days were not intended to surprise anybody. I just need to watch these movies at least once per year, but I have never gotten bored of them, and I cannot foresee that ever happening. These movies are amazing. Great story, fantastic performances, comedy, action and romance all rolled into one story, and the graphics and music to make them work even better. I don’t know how you could have gone through your life without having seen these movies yet, but if you somehow have, you need to watch them right now. If you’ve already seen them, you should watch them again and remember how awesome they are. Back to the Future gets “My density has brought me to you” out of “History is gonna change.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

2 responses to “Back to the Future (1985)

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