Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Great Scott!

Back to the Future
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson
Released: July 3, 1985

Oscar nominations:
Best Sound Effects Editing - won
Best Song - "The Power of Love" (lost to "Say You, Say Me" from White Nights)
Best Original Screenplay - Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (lost to a bunch of people who wrote Witness)
Best Sound (lost to Out of Africa)

Back to the Future Part II
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson, Elisabeth Shue
Released: November 22, 1989

Oscar nominations:
Best Visual Effects (lost to The Abyss)

Back to the Future Part III
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson
Released: May 25, 1990

Now how could I NOT do a review of the Back to the Future trilogy in 2015? Everybody from my generation has seen these movies. At least, that's what I like to think! Everybody knows exactly what you are talking about if you utter "Marty McFly", "DeLorean" or "Hover Board." I was too young to see the first movie in theaters, but I do remember seeing the second and third ones in the theater with my dad and brother. I can't even imagine how people even coped without this movie being around before 1985! It's just so ingrained in my film history that I can't ever imagine a time when Back to the Future didn't exist! Luckily I wasn't born yet/too young when those years occurred! 

Unless you've lived under a rock, or are a tween or younger, then you know everything there is to know about these movies....at least I would assume so! You know that Michael J. Fox was the first choice for Marty McFly but because of his schedule with Family Ties he couldn't do it, so they got Eric Stoltz and even shot some scenes with him, but they were not happy and eventually persuaded Fox to be in the movie so he pretty much alternated between playing Marty McFly and Alex P. Keaton every day as he was filming both movie and TV show at the same time. You know that Crispin Glover wasn't in the other two movies because he wanted more money. You know that the actress who played Jennifer in the first movie (her name is Claudia Wells; you probably don't know who she is) was replaced by Elisabeth Shue (you probably have heard of her!) in the other movies because Wells quit acting when they made the other two (hence the reason why you probably don't recognize her name). You know you always think of the movie whenever you hear Huey Lewis singing "Power of Love" on the radio. You know that this was one of the first movie to use the "same actor playing two people in a scene at the same time" trick. You know how you were anxiously waiting for it to be 2015 so you could get your hands on a cool Hover board! (Gee, thanks a lot, Back to the Future 2!) You know that there was never intended to be a sequel and that the ending of the first movie was a joke, but since the movie was so popular they did end up making two more movies. You know the meaning of 88 mph. You know that Back to the Future was the biggest movie of 1985, hence the highest-grossing movie of that year. And if you've never seen this movie, then what are you waiting for? 

While I do enjoy all three movies, the first movie is by far the best and most iconic. I have seen it more than its sequels, but I wouldn't be able to tell you how many times I've seen it as I've lost track! However, on my last rewatch, there was something that didn't quite add up. Of course we all know the scene where Marty, his slacker brother, and dowdy sister are sitting around the kitchen table while their mother, Lorraine (a 23-year-old Lea Thompson made up to look like a haggard 47-year-old) tells them the story of how she met their father, George (Crispin Glover) is just exposition because this scene is very important later on when Marty is in the past. Lorraine has told Marty that she doesn't approve of his girlfriend, Jennifer, and that when she was his age, she never called a boy or "parked" with a boy and the way she met George was a fluke because her father hit him with a car when he fell out of a tree from "bird watching".

However, when Marty goes back to 1955, we see that his mother was popular and boy crazy as a17-year-old. In the very scene Lorraine was talking about when she and George met, Marty is instead hit by the car his grandfather was driving and is brought into the house where Lorraine is very aggressive towards him. Marty is shocked that his mother is very attractive and nothing at all like he probably imagined her (though I have to wonder, had he never seen photos of her?) Even in the original timeline, this is still the same Lorraine that met and married George. It doesn't make any sense for them to ever get together. The beautiful and popular Lorraine Baines seemed a little too shallow to fall for the quirky and meek loner George McFly. She was not the type of girl who would look twice at him, but attended the Enchantment Under the Sea dance because he looked so helpless after being hit by the car and she felt sorry for him. I can maybe believe that, but them ending up getting married? I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. It makes way more sense for them ending up together when Marty intervenes in the timeline because he helps George build his confidence and because of that, George saves Lorraine from being raped by the scumbag bully, Biff (Thomas F. Wilson). Lorraine sees him in a different light and they truly fall in love and remain that way as is evident when we return to the altered 1985 after Marty has returned from being in the past.

Despite that little detail, I still love the movie. It cracks me up when Marty is eating dinner with his 17 year old mother and her family and her mother says to him, "Marty, you look so familiar. Do I know your mother?"  and Marty glances at Lorraine and says, "I think so." 

The scene where Marty is at the 1955 diner and asks for a Tab is hilarious only for the fact that the guy didn't know what he was talking about and people watching the movie nowadays wouldn't get the joke unless they're old enough to remember what Tab is. I've heard of it, but I've never had it (not to my knowledge, anyway). 

The scene where Marty runs into a young busboy in the '55 diner (who Marty recognizes as the guy who will be mayor of Hill Valley in 1985) reminded me of episodes of "Quantum Leap" where Sam Becket is the one who inspires a young Stephen King to be a horror writer or gives a song idea to a young Buddy Holly (Sidenote: Why haven't they done a reboot of that series yet? It would be the perfect reboot series!) because it is Marty who gives him the idea to become a mayor and he goes, "Yeah, mayor! That's a good idea!"

Was anyone else confused when Marty goes to visit Doc (Christopher Lloyd) in 1955 (who looks exactly the same age as 1985 Doc, but apparently he's wearing old age make up which I've never noticed before) and he shows Doc the video Doc recorded when they were using the DeLorean in 1985 by connecting the camcorder to the TV. How is this even possible? I'm pretty sure camcorders didn't even exist back then! I guess the only explanation that makes sense is that Doc invented something for that to be possible...who knows? 

The DeLorean, our heroes' time machine, is a very big and important (inanimate!) character in these movies. Okay, so I had no idea (until maybe a few years ago) that DeLorean is actually the name of this make of car. I thought that was just what Doc called the time machine because he thought it sounded cool or something. I don't know about you, when I think of "DeLorean" I think of time machine, I don't think of a make of car...unless that car is a time machine. I think it was brilliant for them to use a DeLorean as the time machine because it looks so different and has a futuristic aspect than any other car. It also makes me wonder, did people actually drive these cars back in the '80s? They are the most impractical car I have ever seen. You would only be able to parallel park because if you parked between cars in a parking lot, you wouldn't be able to open the doors!

Back to the Future 2, which came out 4 years later, deals with alternative timelines. And technically, the future part still takes place in the future as it is October 21, 2015 when they go into the future. So I guess there is still time for there to be Hover Boards, automatic-drying jackets, and flying cars! I really dislike the scenes that take place in 2015 and not just because they got everything so, so wrong! (Remember, the '90s hadn't even occurred when they filmed this!) Why does Hollywood think we're going to have flying cars in the future? We already have flying cars! They're called airplanes. Seriously, do you know how dangerous it would be if cars were flying too? It's ridiculous! I love time travel movies, but I hate it when people go in the future...it's so much better and interesting when they go in the past.

By this time Jennifer is played by Elisabeth Shue. They reshot the ending of the first movie with her. If you remember, that ending had Doc taking them to the future and declaring, "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!" There is no need at all for Jennifer to even be in the other two movies (remember, there was never supposed to be any sequels, so the ending was just a throwaway gag), but because they already had her in the DeLorean at the end of the first movie, I guess the writers felt cornered and had to have her go since she was already there.

Doc wants Marty and Jennifer to go to the future with him because their son is going to have some trouble with Biff's grandkid and land in jail or something....IDK, but why do you need to go to the future to stop that? Can't you just tell them, "Hey, make sure you keep an eye on your kid on this day in 2015." Wouldn't that be so much easier than going into the future? That just seems like so much more of a hassle! Oh, well, without them going into the future, then old Biff would never be able to take the thinnest book of sport stats from the last 50 years of the 20th century back in the past to become super rich and alternate the timeline. Although, how Biff knew how to use the DeLorean is beyond me. He was never there for the tutorial of having to get up to 88 mph to be able to go to your desired time.

When Marty is reading the newspaper in 2015, there's a little blur that says "Queen Diana visits United States." Uh.....well, how were they supposed to know? But even if she was still alive and still married to Charles, in 2015, Queen Elizabeth still would have been Queen. 

We see the house of Marty and Jennifer (and Michael J. Fox plays their son and daughter) and they sort of got it right because it could definitely be defined as a "smart house". They say things aloud like "Turn on light" or "turn on TV". And while Skype wasn't invented yet (uh, from the 1989 perspective!), they did have Marty talking to someone via a screen.

One thing I thought that was really smart was when Doc gave Marty a briefcase of money for when he went back to 1955 for the second time because that is very important! You can't use money that was minted in the '80s if you're in the '50s! So I was glad to see that scene. He also gave him '50s clothes.

I thought it was hilarious when 2nd 1955 timeline Marty is at the Enchanted Under the Sea dance and sees 1st 1955 timeline Marty on the stage when he's playing the guitar to the Chuck Barry song before it was released (so does that mean Marty gets credit for the song?) and he's enjoying the music and thinks it sounds pretty good and takes a moment to appreciate it.

I love Cafe '80s and I would go to one all the time if they existed!

Just like the first movie, the second ends with a cliffhanger, the only difference being they knew for sure there was going to be a third one. Marty gets a note from Doc saying he has decided to go to the year 1885. And this is where we begin the third movie....Marty finds out that Doc is killed by an ancestor of Biff (who else?) named Mad Dog so he takes the DeLorean to 1885 to save Doc. Why he didn't just go the day before Doc
left for 1885 and warn him then is beyond me. That seems like it would have been easier and saved a lot more time, though I know, I know, there wouldn't have been any movie! This movie is okay, but I'm not a fan of Westerns so I can take it or leave it. This time Mary Steenburgen joins the cast as a love interest for Doc. Oh, and speaking of love interests, I should mention that when Marty and Doc returned back to the altered 1985 in the previous movie with an unconscious Jennifer, they left her on her front stoop and we don't see her until the end of this movie. So ridiculous to even have her in the last two movies!

Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Thomas F. Wilson are in all three movies. I don't think it was necessary for Thompson to be in the third movie. She plays Marty's great-great-grandmother (Fox, doing double duty again, plays Marty's great-great grandfather). This absolutely makes no sense because WHY WOULD MARTY'S PATERNAL GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER LOOK LIKE HIS MOTHER? THIS IS HIS FATHER'S SIDE OF THE FAMILY! LEA THOMPSON PLAYS A BAINES WHO MARRIED INTO THE MCFLY FAMILY SO WHY THE HELL DOES MARTY'S DAD'S GREAT GRANDMOTHER LOOK LIKE HIS WIFE? WTF, MOVIE? UGH!!!!! This is something I've noticed FOREVER and it always drives me crazy. I know they wanted to give Thompson a role but they sure gave her the wrong one! And really, Marty's great-great grandparents aren't even needed in this movie.

 In the end, Doc is saved from being killed by Mad Dog and he stays in 1885 with his new love and Marty returns to 1985 (and finally his girlfriend!) and the DeLorean has been destroyed. However, Doc has somehow managed to find everything he needs to build another time machine (this time a steam engine) in 1885 and come visit Marty and Jennifer with his new family.

So it's been 30 years since the release of the original movie and I, as I'm sure many other people, have mused, What if they did a reboot of the movie where a 17 year old in 2015 goes back to 1985 where he runs into his teenage parents? What would that be like? I don't think it would work quite as well. There is WAY more of a cultural shock for an '80s kid to go back to the '50s than for a, uh, wait, what do we even call this decade? Obviously there would be plenty of jokes about the differences in technology and fashion between 2015 and 1985, but I really don't think the cultural shock would be that different. Everyone in the '50s just seemed so innocent and had a "Gosh-Golly-Gee!" attitude (okay, to be fair, I wasn't around in the '50s, but this is just my opinion of how it's been portrayed by Hollywood!) while I feel like teens today and in the '80s have more of an edge to them and are more cool. That being said, would I watch a reboot of Back to the Future? Of course I would! Would I bitch about it? Of course I would! Why? Because nothing will ever top the original, not even its two sequels. 

1 comment:

  1. I feel sorry for Eric Stoltz because what happened to him was a case of unfair dismissal. If you click on my name, you will find one of several articles which explore his firing.

    There's a deleted scene in part one where Fox's Marty pulls out a family photo which is actually the Stoltz version. It's the scene where Marty is worried that he might turn out gay if he doesn't kiss his mother at the prom.