Back to the Future (1985) [Review]

116 min July 03, 1985 | |

Plot: When teenager Marty McFly (Fox) is blasted to 1955 in the DeLorean time machine created by the eccentric Doc Brown (Lloyd), he finds himself mixed up in a time-altering chain reaction that could vaporize his future – and leave him trapped in the past.

Reviewed

With the recent “Back to the Future Day” (October 21, 2015) bringing up memories of the 80’s flick Back to the Future, I knew I was going to be watching the film again soon. Well, that day has come.

I remember Back to the Future being a fun adventure flick back when I saw it in ’85. As I’ve grown up, however, I’ve realized that some things of my childhood that seemed so great (“Knight Rider” (TV), “The A-Team” (TV)) aren’t as fantastic once I reached adulthood. Would Back to the Future suffer a similar fate? Or is there a reason this trilogy of films is still in the public’s consciousness 30 years later?

Michael J. Fox endeared himself into the hearts of viewers playing Alex P. Keaton on the classic show Family Ties (TV). With Back to the Future, he managed to bring that endearing factor to the big screen. He’s got great timing, a smart sense of humor and an ease in front of the cameras that viewers will latch onto quickly. Marty McFly is his iconic role, and he showcases, even in this first film, how easily he makes the character his own.

While he was always the first choice for the role, scheduling conflicts had Eric Stoltz originally starring. Thankfully, Michael J. Fox was able to make the film, and puts on a memorable performance as Marty McFly. He’s the main reason the film is so enduring, and it’s still fun to watch him in the role even today.

Christopher Lloyd is a typical mad scientist in Back to the Future. While he manages to make the role his own, his eye-popping surprise takes he showcases later on in the film may remind viewers of the Judge from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988). While the film is a comedy, those facial expressions still seem a bit too comical to fit in with the style of the rest of the film.

The storyline has been praised over the years as one of the best scripts Hollywood has ever produced. It’s more likely the praise is due to the fact that time-travel movies prior to Back to the Future always got bogged down in confusion. This film manages to simplify matters to a great extent, without leaving huge plot holes, and keeping the viewer entertained throughout. Some of the sequences do feel a bit awkward, especially those where McFly’s mom is trying to put the moves on him in 1955. Overall, though, the film does a nice job of keeping the viewer along for the ride from start to finish, and the feel-good bully comeuppance sequence near the end is a great finish.

As Doc and Marty head off in the now iconic ending sequence with the line “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need…roads”, viewers will come away from Back to the Future with a feeling of satisfaction. While the film has degraded a bit over the years since it’s release in 1985 (since the “now” of the film is 1985, and that’s a time that’s rife for ridicule), Michael J. Fox’s iconic performance as Marty McFly is just as fun as ever.

While the film may be on just about everyone’s top 20 lists, by this time, it seems it’s more due to the impact the film has made on society than on the film itself. Watching Back to the Future today is more about checking out a film that became a cultural phenomenon mostly by good timing more than anything else. The film remains entertaining more than 30 years after it’s release (a feat all by itself), but one of the best of all time? That’s a stretch these days.

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