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Back to the Future (1985)

2008-12-12 15:34
Back to the Future
If time travel were possible and we could move as freely from year to year as we move from street to street, the world's leaders would erect a massive, impenetrable dome around the entire 1980s and deny all claims of its existence. This is because the 80s sucked, and anyone who embraces its nostalgia was either too young to remember the real deal or spent the entire decade off their tits on tequila and cocaine.

It's ironic that today the 80s practically defines the spirit of retro, because the 80s itself was all about the future - probably because we wanted so badly to escape. Clothes were puffy and glittery and so ugly it was actually depressing. Everyone's humungous hair was in everyone else's glossy, painted face. We danced like malfunctioning robots to synthetic music mass-produced by computer nerds, and did I mention the hair? We had terrible hair.

So Robert Zemeckis' Back to the Future was just the sort of nostalgic teen science fiction I needed. When you're stuck in 80s South Africa, going through the horrors of high school and puberty, what could be better than a movie about a guy who uses future technology to travel into the past to fix the present?

Actually, it's a bit more complex than that. Here's the plot:

Frustrated teenage musician Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) is inexplicably friends with an aged mad scientist, Dr Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd), who steals radioactive plutonium from Libyan terrorists to fuel a time machine he built out of a sports car. While testing the machine in a deserted parking lot, the crazy terrorists arrive and shoot the mad scientist. Marty escapes in the sports car/time machine, but finds himself stuck in the 1950s with no more plutonium fuel to get back home.

So Marty finds the 50s version of the mad scientist, who looks exactly as old as he did/does in the 80s, and enlists his help to get Back to the Future.

In the process, Marty has to play matchmaker to the teenage version of his parents so they'll get together as fate intended, or he'll snuff out of existence. Along the way, he has to face high school, a gang of bullies and puberty. These are concerns every teenager can to relate to, no matter what the decade. He also has to fend off the sexual advances of the totally hot teen version of his mother, which is every bit as disturbing as it sounds.

Fox nearly worked himself to death on this movie, rushing between sets of the movie and the sitcom Family Ties, which was every bit as awful as its title. His efforts paid off, though. Producer Steven Spielberg was at the height of his game, and the movie was a runaway hit, spawning two sequels which were not as good as the first, but great anyway.

It was a relief to see that the movie still held up, despite being nearly a quarter of a century old. Actually, it holds up far better than just about every teen movie released in the last five years. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy. There's swearing, violence, skateboarding, time travel and allusions to incest. What more could you possibly want?

Memorable quotes (source:

George McFly: Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn't take Lorraine out that he'd melt my brain.

Lou: You gonna order something, kid?
Marty McFly: Ah, yeah... Give me - Give me a Tab.
Lou: Tab? I can't give you a tab unless you order something.
Marty McFly: All right, give me a Pepsi Free.
Lou: You want a Pepsi, PAL, you're gonna pay for it.

[Dr. Emmett Brown is doubting Marty McFly's story that he is from the future]
Dr. Emmett Brown: Then tell me, "Future Boy", who's President in the United States in 1985?
Marty McFly: Ronald Reagan.
Dr. Emmett Brown: Ronald Reagan? The actor?
[chuckles in disbelief]
Dr. Emmett Brown: Then who's VICE-President? Jerry Lewis?

Biff Tannen: Since you're new here, I-I'm gonna cut you a break... today. So, why don't you make like a tree and get outta here?

Marty McFly:
What about all that talk about screwing up future events, the space-time continuum?
Dr. Emmett Brown: Well, I figured, what the hell.

A movie that's about escaping the '80's? What's not to love? Here's why this is a classic. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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