YAM magazine are travelling back in time to the 90’s in the first edition of their new feature, The Time Machine Blogathon! What’s that? How can I be writing a review of Back to the Future, a classic eighties movie, for a 90’s themed blogathon? Well the great thing about this is that they are looking for posts about what we spent our time enjoying during the time period, not what was necessarily made back then. And I certainly spent a great deal of time during the nineties watching Back to the Future.
Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is your average 80’s teenager; he wants to be a rock guitarist, spend more time with his girlfriend, and is consistently late for school. There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly unusual about him at all – except that he looks cool when hanging off the back of trucks and cars. It turns out though that his eccentric scientist friend – Doctor Emmett Brown, who’s played gloriously over the top by Christopher Lloyd, has just built a time machine out of a Delorean. I was a Bond fan before I first saw Back to the Future, but the moment I encountered the Delorean all of those great cars that 007 has were swept aside, this car was my new favourite movie vehicle – and it was a time machine as well! It seems incredible now that amongst the different ideas for the time machine that were knocked around, a laser strapped to a fridge was supposedly the popular choice at one time. It was going to be taken to nuclear test site where Marty would climb inside (Indy IV anyone?), and then the machine would harness the nuclear power from the explosion and propel him through time. All I can say is that we well and truly dodged a bullet with that one.
Once Marty is sent back to the 50’s and bumps into his parents (Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson) we become truly aware of the attention to detail that’s been put into this film. Every line of dialogue is meaningful, numerous background details change accordingly such as the Twin Pine/Lone Pine Mall, and despite being more complicated than it needs to be, it also handles the issue of time travel extremely well. It’s clear that a lot of love and care was put into this by Zemeckis and Gale, and the film almost radiates this it’s so warm-hearted. When it was released it played to a nostalgic desire for the 50’s, amusingly now the film hits us with a double whammy of nostalgia both for the 50’s and the 80’s themselves, and I’m not sure which one I wanted to have been a teenager in back when I watched this.
Marty McFly was the everyman/teen that I wanted to be. He made me want to learn to skateboard, he succeeded in making me pick up a guitar and take lessons, he even made me briefly consider Power of Love to be the coolest song on Earth. Of course all this is down to one man, Michael J. Fox. As much as I like Eric Stoltz there is no doubt in my mind that Fox was the better choice to play Marty. This is one of those few roles which you really can’t imagine anyone else in it, and where the actor seems almost born to play their character. The rest of the cast is fantastic as well; with Christopher Lloyd playing the mad scientist brilliantly, Crispin Glover doing his thing as Marty’s father, Thomas F. Wilson playing the bully Biff very well, and Lea Thompson, who became my first onscreen teenage crush, as Marty’s mother. Everyone does such a great job here and really contributes to the film having such lasting viewing power.
Endlessly rewatchable and always entertaining, I think there’s a strong case to be made for Back to the Future to be considered amongst the absolute pinnacle of family entertainment movies. That’s a bold claim I know, but there are very few films out there which provide this level of fun, excitement, and wish fulfilment. I have thought about it for a while now and I really don’t think that there’s a single thing that I would change about this film, it’s pretty much perfect.