Back to the Future(PG)
Ah, Back to the Future... definitely one of the best trilogies ever, and one of my favorite fandoms, back in the day. Let's see... first of all I should say that I loved the soundtrack, which was one of my most often listened to cassette tapes. And I joined the fan club in 1990 (the year Part III came out); it was basically just a magazine that put out four issues. Hmm... actually, I guess that's all I can think to say. I thought there'd be more. (I may be forgetting things, though.) Anyway, I was a big fan. Um... the movie came out in 1985, when I guess I was nine years old. I suppose I must have first seen it on VHS sometime in the 80s. I'm not sure how many times I watched it, over the years; probably not nearly enough to demonstrate my love, considering how often some people watch movies, even ones they only like. But whatever, I don't need to prove anything. I'm telling you it's one of my favorite movies. Anyway, I finally got the trilogy on DVD in 2015, because I wanted to watch Part II on October 21 (for a specific reason). This meant I'd have to watch the first movie sometime before that. But first I watched some bonus features, which made me realize just how much of the plot was influenced by necessity. As a writer, I kind of get it, but still... it's kind of crazy, because damn... this movie is just so perfect. It's hard to imagine any aspect of it being different at all. Also I should say that when I watched it in September 2015, I noticed some things that I think I had never noticed before, which increased my appreciation (which hardly seemed possible).
Anyway... there's this high school student named Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), who lives in the town of Hill Valley, and who is inexplicably friends with an eccentric old inventor named Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Also he has a girlfriend named Jennifer. And parents named George (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine (Lea Thompson). And a brother and sister who are of no great importance. Also the school principal, Mr. Strickland (James Tolkan), was pretty much a dick. Marty plays guitar in a band, and hopes to get a gig at the school dance, but that doesn't work out. Then he goes to meet Doc Brown at the Twin Pines Mall, to videotape the first test of Doc's latest invention. (Incidentally, I'm going to say right now that I always loved the fact that later in the movie, this place will be called the Lone Pine Mall.) Doc Brown has built a time machine into a DeLorean. And he's set it up to control by remote, with his dog, Einstein, as a test subject. He sends Einy one minute into the future. But the time machine is powered by plutonium, which he'd obtained by tricking some Libyan terrorists. After Einstein returns, the Libyans come looking for Doc Brown, and shoot him. Marty barely manages to escape in the DeLorean, and accidentally travels back to November 5, 1955, which is when Doc had come up with the idea for the flux capacitor, which is what makes time travel possible. (Oh, and the time circuits activate when the car is going 88 miles per hour.)
Marty meets his father as a teenager. And he inadvertently prevents the incident that led to his parents going to a school dance. And his mother gets the hots for him instead of George. Marty finds Doc Brown and convinces him that he's from the future, and enlists his help to return to the present. Unfortunately, he doesn't have any plutonium to power the flux capacitor. But because of one of the movie's many examples of foreshadowing, Marty knows the precise time that in one week, lightning will strike the local clock tower. And that could provide the 1.21 gigawatts (inexplicably pronounced "jigawatts") needed to power the flux capacitor. So Doc Brown comes up with a plan to harness the lightning's power. Meanwhile, Marty has to try to get his parents together, otherwise he (and his brother and sister) would never be born. This is complicated by the fact that a bully named Biff Tannen is interested in Lorraine (though she clearly has no interest in him). And George is too awkward to ask Lorraine out. And as I said, Lorraine is interested in Marty. Oh, and there's a subplot about Marty wanting to warn Doc Brown that he'll be killed in thirty years, but Doc doesn't want to hear anything about his future. Anyway... Marty ends up going to the dance with Lorraine, but he still has a plan to get his parents together. It fails for a number of reasons that I don't want to go into detail about, but... Biff is involved. But... things do work out, in the end, rather differently than Marty had planned.
Ultimately, Marty returns to his own time, and his whole family's life seems to be much better than it was before, because of the changes he made to the past. Also, Doc Brown is still alive, for a reason that always bothered me. There's a decision he made that just never made any sense to me at all, but if it means he's alive, I'm glad, nevertheless. Also, something else always bothered me, and it bothers me now more than ever. George and Biff now apparently both have different careers than they did originally. And Biff has been hired to wax George's car. On the surface, it seems fitting that he is now of lower status than George, but on the other hand... it seems inconceivable to me that the McFlys would hire him to do anything for them, after what he tried to do to Lorraine thirty years ago. I mean, holy crap, they shouldn't want him anywhere near them, ever. But anyway... Doc shows up again, having traveled to the future. Now he wants Marty to go with him, and Jennifer goes along, too. It seems like obvious sequel bait, even though at the time the movie was made, the writers had no idea if such a thing would even be possible. (But of course we know the movie was a huge hit, so a sequel was inevitable.)
And I feel like I'm forgetting countless things I should be saying. (I reckon I could watch it again and pause it every few minutes to add notes on things I loved about it.) The movie is just terribly clever and funny and awesome in so many ways. (And oh my gosh how I crushed on 1955 Lorraine.) There are things I kind of don't like about the movie, but somehow those things all seem so minor, in comparison to all the things I adore about the film. And um yeah... I'm going to end this review for now, but I might add to it later. Or not. I don't know.
Continued in Back to the Future Part II