Back To The Future
by Waitsel Smith
5-Star Masterpiece - Best Comedy 1985 - starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd; direction and co-writing, Bob Zemeckis - Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment
Michael J. Fox is perfect as Marty McFly in this Spielberg-produced film about time travel in a DeLorean sports car, invented by a quirky, over-the-top scientist named Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). The car runs on electricity, but needs plutonium to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity required to start it. That's a difficult enough item to come by in 1985, even if you steal it from a group of Lybian terrorists, as Dr. Brown does. But in 1955, where he accidentally sends Marty in the DeLorean, it's impossible. So Marty is stuck, unless the 1955 version of Brown can come up with an alternative plan.
Meanwhile, Marty has accidentally interacted with his future parents, Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson) and George McFly (Crispin Glover), jeopardizing his own future existence. On top of that, the school bully, Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) has George under his thumb, Lorraine in his sights, and Marty pegged as a threat. Everything is leading up to the school's Enchantment Under the Sea dance, where George and Lorraine are supposed to meet and fall in love; but neither of them is moving in that direction, and time is running out. To make matters worse, Lorraine (Marty's future mom) has the hots for him!
This is one of the cleverest movies ever made. Anachronisms abound, as does the irony. Nostalgia buffs will have a field day. The hot rods are hot, the music is rock-and-roll and soda fountains don't serve Tab or Pepsi Free. Marty is, of course, a fish-out-of-water; but that doesn't stop him from using all his 1985 know-how to try to turn things around, including making a getaway on a skateboard, to everyone's amazement; and playing rock music to an audience that isn't quite ready for it. Director Bob Zemeckis, who directed Romancing The Stone, and would later direct Forest Gump, was able to convince Steven Spielberg of the merits of this idea, and ended up making one of the defining films of the 1980s.
Most memorable line:
Marty McFly: Whoa. This is heavy.
Dr. Emmett Brown: There's that word again, "heavy." Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth's gravitational pull?
Waitsel Smith, August 20, 2013
Text © 2013 Waitsel Smith. Photos © Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.