Pros: Fun blend of time travel, romance, and comedy
Cons: A little mature for it's PG rating
The Bottom Line:
This film's a classic
Great mix of sci fi and laughs
Movie's just plain fun
Time Travel and Romance in a Comedy? Great Scott!
While I grew up in the 80's, I didn't manage to see Back to the Future until 1995. By that time, it was 10 years old, but it was still great fun. I just rewatched it, and 25 years out the movie is still a blast.
As the movie opens, we are introduced to Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) a typical teenager in 1985. He's into rock and roll, and a pretty girlfriend named Jennifer (Claudia Wells). His family is pretty much underachievers, and his dad (Crispin Glover) is still bullied by high school nemesis Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson).
Marty is also friends with Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), the town's eccentric inventor. Doc has just figured out the secret to time travel and put it in a DeLorean. Through a strange set of circumstances, Marty winds up in the machine going back to 1955.
While he is still in his home town, it's a world that is very strange to him. But he bumps into his parents (Crispin Glover still and Lea Thompson), and interrupts their first meeting. Now, he has to get them to fall in love while the 1955 Doc tries to fix the time machine. Can Marty play matchmaker and still make it back to the future? (Sorry, I just couldn't resist.)
This movie works on several levels. On the surface, it is science fiction, but that's mainly just the set up for the story. If you aren't a fan of the genre, don't let that scare you away. The main focus is the romantic relationship between Marty's teenage parents. This story is definitely played for laughs. In some ways, it's a typical romantic comedy, but Marty's presence as the main character changes the stakes some. Finally, it's a fish out of water comedy, and they play up how different things are in 1955 versus 1985. In fact, many of my favorite lines are Marty's reactions to things or other's reactions to Marty.
All these things come together effortlessly. You never have time to think "Oh, now I'm in this genre." You're just caught up in the story enjoying the various plot points. Things progress quickly; the story never gives you time to get bored as it moves from plot point to plot point. Yes, the ending was predictable, but I was having such fun getting there I truly didn't care.
The characters are a bit interesting. At times, some of them drive you crazy, but by the end, I find I like all the heroes and can't stand the bullies.
The actors are perfect. Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, and Thomas F. Wilson get to play young and old versions of themselves. While I don't quite believe the old versions, it is still pretty fun, and I buy them as 1955 teenagers no problem. Michael J. Fox is great as Marty, infecting every scene he is in with such energy. But by far the standout is Christopher Lloyd's Doc. He steals every scene he is in and makes you laugh with some of the most random lines. He is Doc, and anyone else in the part would be a travesty.
The movie is rated PG, but it seems a little more PG-13 to me. The language and sexual overtones to some of the scenes are intended for a more mature audience, at least in my mind. Of course, the PG-13 rating wasn't yet around when this film came out, so that helps explain the rating.
I don't know why I don't watch Back to the Future more frequently. The comedy is so funny and the story is plain fun. If you've somehow missed this classic, correct that error today.