Director Robert Zemeckis probably hoped that his film about a time traveling boy would be a remembered, but I’m reasonably sure he had no idea the impact it would have on the legions of fans for years to come. To say this movie was a success would be an understatement. Since 1985, Back to the Future has gone on to gross more than $381 million dollars worldwide and was the #1 movie of 1985. Back to the Future was voted the 23rd greatest film ever made by readers of Empire Magazine, it has been included in AFI’s Top 10 Science Fiction Films of All Time, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”, and most importantly, it is my #1 movie of all time. Let’s look back 30 years into the past and travel Back to the Future.
Marty (Michael J. Fox) is your average rebellious teen destined for rock stardom and all the spoils that come with it; there’s just one problem…he’s a McFly and in Hill Valley, that name stands for mediocrity; but things are about to change. Marty lives with his parents George (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine (Lea Thompson) along with his siblings Dave (Marc McClure) and Linda (Wendi Jo Sperber). George is the pushover type never looking for trouble but seemingly finding it. He works for a supervisor named Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) who is always looking to bully George and seems to have a past with the family. Lorraine, Marty’s mom, is an alcoholic who’s life just hasn’t turned out quite the way she imagined. Marty’s siblings still live at home after graduating high school and just can’t seem to catch a break in life. During an exchange at the dinner table, Lorraine recants the tale of the night her and her husband met, a story which involving George being hit by Lorraine’s fathers car. It was the moment she knew they fell in love and would be together forever.
Marty’s best friend scientist Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) has created a time machine….out of a DeLorean! How can it time travel you may ask? Well you preset a travel date into the console, a date like, oooooh say November 5th, 1955. Yes! November 5th 1955, the day Doc Brown hit his head on the porcelain sink while hanging a clock in the bathroom, when he came to he had a vision of the Flux Capacitor. The vehicles time displacement is powered by plutonium, but don’t worry, this suckers electrical, it uses the plutonium to create a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to power the Flux Capacitor. But watch out, once this baby hits 88 mph we’re gonna see some serious shit.
So where would a scientist from California get his hands on plutonium? Well from a Libyan terrorist group of course, and they are sure pissed that he stole from them. They show up to collect what is owed to them and they are out for revenge. Marty witnesses the assassination of his old friend which leaves him little choice, jump in the DeLorean and haul ass. But as Marty is speeding away, he hits the magical 88 mph and Marty is shot back in time to Hill Valley 1955.
Of course Marty’s immediate reaction is to explore Hill Valley and search for Doc Brown to help him return to the future but in the process some unexpected events occur. Marty encounters his father George who is again being bullied by Biff. As George fleas the scene, Marty decides to follow him only to find him spying in a tree at an unsuspecting female. George loses his balance and falls out of the tree, but Marty comes to the rescue, pushes George away from the car and inadvertently is hit with the car instead. Marty wakes in his mothers room where she has become smitten with Marty. He realizes that he has mistakenly taken the place of his father in the tale of their impeding love story and subsequently altered the future.
Marty finds Doc and Doc explains that the only available power source capable of generating 1.21 gigawatts of energy is bolt of lightning. Marty knows that lightning stuck the towns clock tower and 10:04 pm on November 14th, 1955. All that Doc and Marty have to do is figure out a way to harness its power. Oh, and convince George to ask Lorraine to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance and re-change the past so Marty can save his future! But of course Biff has something to say about that.
My love for this movie knows no bounds. It was the first movie I latched onto in my younger years and I’ve watched it at least once every month since…yes I’ve seen this movie over 350 times. The film’s story was so original and fresh that it immediately found an audience with young viewers. Michael J. Fox was a star at the time with the popularity of the hit show “Family Ties”, but interestingly enough Fox was the producers second choice for Marty (Eric Stoltz was originally cast); but there was no better choice than Fox as he ultimately proved. Marty McFly has become an iconic character who’s appeal is as beloved today as it was 29 years ago…maybe ever more so. Christopher Lloyd’s portrayal as Doc Brown is equally as iconic as Fox’s performance. The mannerisms, the delivery of the dialogue, the chemistry he created with Fox brought an immediate emotional connection to the movie which resonated thru the following two sequels. The friendship between Marty and Doc is one very few can top. These characters will live on in film history as two of the greatest ever created.
The supporting cast was amazing. Lea Thompson was fantastic in her duel roles as Lorraine Baines and the future Lorraine McFly. Her beauty was unsurpassed and her presence omitted a touch of youthful mischief that added a level of playfulness that was key to the execution of her relationship with Marty. Crispin Glover was equally as phenomenal as George McFly. His mannerisms as a youthful outcast whose dream of becoming a sci-fi writer and sweeping the woman of his dreams off her feet are quirky and awkward but extremely lovable. Glover brings a level of tension to each scene that allows the audience the feeling of concern yet allows for a playful exuberance to shine thru. And who could forget Tom Wilson. The antagonist of the film, Biff Tannen, arguably one of the top villainous performances of the 1980’s and beyond. Wilson is THE perfect bully. From his interactions with George to his confrontations with Marty, Wilson stands with each actor toe to toe and creates memorable scene after memorable scene. From his bruting mannerisms to his off beat comical delivery, Wilson is a gem in every scene.
Back to the Future is a film that changed the way I watched movies at an early age and solidified my love for film. It is a movie that deserves every one of its accolades and will stand the test of time as one of the all time films. This movie takes me to a place emotionally that allows me to relive a small piece of my childhood with each viewing. I owe so much to this film and I have no way to pay it back. I can simply say thank you Marty and Doc for taking me on your journey.
5 out of 5 stars