Back to the Future: Random Thoughts

Back to the Future

Since it’s 2015, we’re going to be constantly bombarded with Back to the Future nostalgia all year. After all, 2015 is the date that Marty and Doc visit in Part II. Don’t believe me? You must not be on the internet much. Here’s an article about Marty’s self-lacing shoes. Click here for a video about hoverboards. Buy some Back to the Future tee shirts here.

I recently rewatched the trilogy, despite my Back to the Future overload. It holds up as one of the greatest trilogies ever filmed, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts. Like my Django Unchained post, I don’t really want to get into an in-depth review. Instead, I’d rather just share some of my random thoughts about the film(s) in a stream of consciousness post. It’s all spoilers, so don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movies. If you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for?

The Trilogy

  • The casting of the two leads, and their performances, are perfect. When you think of Michael J. Fox, you think Marty McFly. Christopher Lloyd? Doc Brown. Both actors have had long careers, but neither one ever had a role as iconic as Marty or Doc. (I guess Alex Keaton from Family Ties comes close, but Fox is Marty first.)
  • The supporting cast is also perfect, and I think a special mention of Thomas F. Wilson’s portrayal of Biff is in order. He’s such a good villain as both Biff and Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen. (Griff is fun, but a bit over the top.) What happened to this guy? Probably typecast.
  • I love all the recurring jokes, from Marty waking up in the same room as Lea Thompson thinking he’s safe at home, to Biff/Buford getting covered in manure. My favorite, though is Doc apologizing for his models not being painted or to scale. Hilarious.

Back to the Future

Part I

  • Part I is a near perfect movie. There’s something for everyone; action, adventure, comedy, romance, drama, and geeky sci-fi stuff. The performances are perfect, the story is funny and exciting, and the pacing is (almost) perfect. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this now and go watch it. You’ll thank me.
  • This movie is hilarious, not just exciting. Marty’s introduction, in which he is thrown across the room by Doc’s speaker, still cracks me up. Other great jokes: “Who the hell is John F. Kennedy?” “If you ever have a kid like that I’ll disown you.” “Who’s the vice president? Jerry Lewis?” All classics.
  • People have written about the problems with time travel paradoxes and continuity errors. It’s a teen comedy adventure, not a scientific paper. Knock it off and enjoy one of the best, if not THE best, movie of the 1980s. Doc himself says it best at the end when Marty questions him about the space-time continuum. “I decided ‘What the hell?'” Perfect response.
  • The only problem I really have with this movie’s structure is the scene at the dance in which a nerdy kid cuts in on George and Lorraine after George had already knocked out the biggest bully in school. Is this dweeb really going to be a threat? It also messes up the pacing of the movie and George’s character arc. I’m not the first one to bring this up, Trilbee Reviews has a good analysis on YouTube, here.
  • I wonder why the original Jennifer didn’t return for the sequels?

Back to the Future II

Part II

  • This is easily the weakest entry in the trilogy. The first and last movies are action comedies that happen to include time travel. This one tries to be a sci-fi movie focused on time travel. It doesn’t work as well as the other two movies because the tone is completely different.
  • Biff’s character doesn’t work in this movie, although Wilson’s portrayal is still fantastic. Biff goes from a bully in the first movie to a deranged lunatic in this one. Confused Matthew does a fantastic job explaining why it doesn’t work, so I recommend watching his reviews. (I’ve included them at the end of this post.)
  • The “chicken” insult doesn’t sit right with me. Why does Marty care about what some teenagers 30 years in the future think of him? If he changes the future, they may never even exist. I get that the filmmakers are setting up a running theme to be overcome in the third movie, but even as a kid this didn’t sit right with me.
  • I love that old Biff has a fist on top of his cane. It’s the little details that enhance any movie.
  • Although it’s already been overdone, it’s still fun to compare real 2015 to Part II’s 2015. Let’s see if the Cubs actually beat the Marlins in the World Series this year!

Back to the Futrue III

Part III

  • Part III returns to the action adventure tone that was missing from Part II. Some people had a problem with it being a Western, but it makes perfect sense for 1885 California. Plus, even though it has “Western” elements, it’s not really a Western genre film; it’s still a comedy adventure movie.
  • I love the role reversal of Marty and Doc. Doc becomes the romantic and Marty has to be the scientist and voice of reason. This was a very interesting idea that paid off.
  • Marty’s Travis Bickle impression is awful, but I’m sure this is on purpose.
  • Doc getting drunk and passing out after one shot cracks me up. The wake up juice is a “must try.”
  • The steampunk locomotive is really the perfect ending to the trilogy. Doc constantly tells Marty he’s going to destroy the DeLorean when they return home. When it is finally destroyed, Doc shows up hours later in a newer (older?), bigger time machine. To me, it’s a callback to the “What the hell?” line from the first movie.

Here are some funny Back to the Future related videos that I enjoyed. Perhaps you will too?

Cracked.com Discussions
Confused Matthew Movie Reviews

Agree? Disagree? What’s your take on the trilogy? Let me know in the comments.


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