Thursday, January 13, 2011

Say, Do You Like Huey Lewis?

So, last week, I put out a call to see what the people would like me to review, and I only had one response, which I will do my very best to do. Alex, over there at Jaded Hope, requested that I do the 80’s classic – Back To The Future (and yes, it is a film that he will be doing as well, in his own inimitable style). I’ll go him one better, and do the whole trilogy. And that will be what I cover for the next three days.

And, as requested by Alex, I’ll be reviewing them much in the style of The Gr80s Podcast, seeing how they stand up these days.

We all know the plot of the films, so I won’t go too deep into them. In a nutshell, Marty McFly (Michael J Fox, or in a parallel dimension, Eric Stoltz), with the help of the always awesome Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown, use the third greatest time machine ever to travel to the past, the present, the future, the present again, the past again, the present once more, the wild west and the present – in that order. Adventure, romance and hilarity ensue. But do they hold up? We shall see.

First off, the film that started it all.

Back To The Future

As you know from an earlier entry in this thing, I have a soft spot for time travel films (we know my favourite style, but they are all great – I can trace the reasoning for this back to my long standing fandom of Doctor Who). And, let’s face it, when you talk to anyone over about the age of 22, and ask them to say a time travel film, there is a very good chance that the first one they say will be Back To The Future.

Long story short – Marty McFly travels back in time to 1955 and accidentally has his (not yet) mother fall in love with him. He then has to get her and his soon to be father together so he doesn’t disappear into whatever √¶ther people go to in such occurrences. Can he do it? Well, since there were three films made in the series, it’s a pretty safe bet that – yes, yes he can.

This is a film that has some great iconic imagery, especially to someone who came of age in the 80’s. The Clocktower (and I geeked out years ago when I got a chance to see the Hill Valley set when I visited Universal Studios), Marty at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance, the flaming tire marks of the Delorean, “Hello! McFly!”, “Where we’re going, we won’t need roads!” – all are worthy additions to any film fan’s highlight reel. To me, the introduction of Doc Brown and the Delorean is one of the coolest character introductions that I have seen in any film, and I stand by that to this day.

Overall, I have to say that this film actually holds up pretty well, as outside of the use of dates, there is only really a couple of things in the film that truly tie it to the 80’s. Firstly, the Delorean itself, with its metal finish and crazy winged doors, the Delorean was as 80’s as the Rubiks Cube, feathered hair or *insert third 80s reference here*.  However, what saves it from dating the movie is the fact, that even by 1985, the Delorean was already being consigned to relics of history – hell, even Marty is astounded that the car was put to good use: “Let me get this straight, you made a time machine? Out of a Delorean?” The other, a reference to Ronald Reagan being President in the 80s – thankfully, the joke that comes after that about other 50’s actors being members of his cabinet help to temper the dating.

There are only two things, to me that stand out as being obviously bad. The first (and I remember rolling my eyes at the quality even then) is Lea Thompson’s makeup job as “modern day” Lorraine; it’s not that it is shoddy or laughably bad, it’s just that Lea Thompson is so recognisable to any fan of 80s movies, that seeing her look any way than what she is “supposed” to look like is a shock (plus, I maintain that she still looks like a rubber potato). And the other, the scene where the flaming tire marks from the Delorean shoot between Doc and Marty’s feet is a fairly obvious computer drop in of the humans. And, for those to be the only things that don’t hold up on a film that is 26 years old is pretty damn good indeed.

It’s a fun story, with some cornball moments of WSD that add up to something that really wouldn’t be out of place as a film made today (not that I am endorsing a remake, mind you). About the only thing that would be different would be that I can’t think of an actor from the current crop who is half as likable and charming as Michael J Fox was back then. Plus, that sense of fun would be missing, as I can’t think of any films of the modern era that have that feel, which is a real shame.

All in all, I had as much fun watching Back To The Future as I ever had. Join me tomorrow when I see if Part Two holds up as well.


  1. I think the best point you made was that it is very hard to find a protagonist as likable as Marty McFly. Somehow in the era of the dark and brooding, it's tough to make a goody-goody guy anything but annoying and nerdy, which Marty could be but he overcame it.

    Thanks for the shout-out, sir. And thanks for fulfilling this request. Hopefully at some point I can do the same in return. Think of a huge, popular movie and I'll either review it if I've seen it or get a chance to see it.

    I don't have a DVD list, but I do have a flickchart, under the same username.

  2. Just cast an eye over your top 50 - a lot of crossover in taste there. But, I think I've found a film that has been almost universally praised. I'd like to see the Jaded Hope take on Dark Knight.