Movie Review

Back to the Future

Reviewed by: Josh Johnson
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
10 to Adult
Genre:
Sci-Fi Adventure Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 56 min.
Year of Release:
1985
USA Release:
_____
Copyrighted
Featuring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Producer: _____
Distributor: _____

“Back to the Future” is the perfect time-travel movie. The Back to the Future movies are probably the three most intelligent science-fiction/comedy movies ever made.

In “Back to the Future” (part 1), Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox.) is a normal teenager living in 1985. One day, his best friend, Doc (Christopher Lloyd) tells him that he has secretly been working on a time machine that runs on nuclear power. Shortly afterwards, Marty accidently time travels to 1955. Since the time machine is now out of plutonium, Marty realizes he has no way home. He goes to the 1955 Doc, who says that lightning can produce the energy required for the time machine. All Marty has to do is wait until the next thunderstorm, get the time machine struck by lightning and he’ll get back to 1985.

It’s not that simple. Without realizing it, Marty prevented his mother and father from meeting each other. Not only that, but Marty’s mother, unaware of who Marty really is, develops a crush on him. So now Marty has to get his parents to fall in love with each other. Marty also has to get his father to stand up to the school bully (Thomas F. Wilson). If Marty doesn’t get his parents to fall in love, then they won’t get married and he’ll cease to exist.

“Back to the Future” is very intelligent. There are absolutely no plot holes in the entire movie. The sequels are just as intelligent and entertaining (although the third movie is the best). Every time the heroes time travel, they try not to alter history, although they unknowingly generally change it for the better.

There are some offensive parts of this movie. Marty mildly curses throughout the movie and there is a mild amount of violence involving Marty’s father and the school bully. There is a scene where it appears that someone has been shot; there’s also a scene where the school bully gets into a car with Marty’s mother and starts kissing her even though she doesn’t want him to. Fortunately, Marty’s father shows up a minute later. It should be noted that Marty never once encourages the 1955 teens to do anything immoral (such as give in to their hormones).

Although this movie may be too complicated for young children, it’s suitable for anyone above the age of ten. I first saw this movie as a kid, and I still love it.

Followed by:Back to the Future II” (1989) and “Back to the Future III” (1990)


Viewer Comments
While this movie has some fun with the baby boomer generation gap, its pretty lightweight and hokey, and I don’t like franchise effects when a successful, albeit somewhat insipid premise spawns two, three or four recreations for just money money money. As to the original review regarding the best sci-fi movies ever, umm I think that reviewer needs to bone up on his “Solaris”, “La Jetee” and “12 Monkeys.” Even a spin through the early “Alien” films might help! My Ratings: [3/2]
—Pete Weets, age 30
This was the first PG movie I saw, at the age of 8, and while I loved it dearly (and still do) even then I was bothered by the amount of profanity in it. When it came out on video I was concerned about my 5-year-old brother watching it. Beyond that it’s great family entertainment, and gave me a lifelong love for time-travel stories.
—Alyssa, age 23
Time travel is always a fascinating subject for the movies, and this one does not disappoint. Christopher Lloyd is a perfect lovable mad scientist, and youthful looking Michael J. Fox has the right type of energy to move the plot along. There are some mild sex jokes, but other than that, there is little here that is offensive. The movie is fast paced—you will not sleep during this one!
—Hillari Hunter, age 38
I enjoy Sci-fi films, and the reviewer is correct that this series is one of the best-done stories of its kind; but I question a firm threshold age of 10. For one thing, both of Marty’s parents are shown as flawed: his father met his mother through peeping into her bedroom window, and his mother did things as a teen (drinking, smoking, “parking”) that she in 1985 denies ever doing and tells her own kids not to do. 10-to-13-year-olds seeing “average” parents portrayed this way will have one more excuse to be cynical and disrespectful of their own parents. Secondly, the stereotyped black dance band smokes marijuana between sets; any film with drug use is supposed to be rated at least PG-13 (note by another user that the PG-13 rating did not begin until 1986). Of course the studio could argue that it was really only tobacco and that Biff’s gang was being prejudiced when they called the band “reefer-heads;” but anyone seeing the film just for fun would assume that the band really was smoking dope. Thirdly, any story involving backward time-travel gets into a never-never land of alternate realities and parallel universes, bringing people back from the dead by changing the past, etc. Besides being impossible according to traditional physics (let’s not go into quantum physics), the idea of backward time-travel infringes on Bible teachings such as God’s foreknowledge and the believer’s election (Rom. 8:28-39, 9:10-24). It’s one thing to wish we could go back and change things (who doesn’t?), and another to actually believe we can. On this point, the cutoff age should be when the viewer clearly knows that this is only fiction (remember there are adults who think pro wrestling is real). My Ratings: [3/4½]
Brett Willis, age 49