“Yeah, well, history is gonna change.”
Back to the Future was, and still is, a cultural icon. Written and directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) and starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson, Back to the Future brought time travel from the deep recesses of science fiction into the mainstream spotlight. Although The Terminator had dabbled in time travel just the year before and a few other major movies had sent people forward in time, no other mainstream movie had dealt with things like a time paradox—let alone in a way that made sense to virtually every viewer. Back to the Future made this hard science fiction concept cool and fun and brought it into the common vernacular. Many time travel movies since then owe part of their success to this groundbreaking movie.
The plot follows Marty McFly, an average teenager who seems to have the odds stacked against him: his parents are losers and their legacy has followed him into high school. When his scientist friend Doc tests a time machine and meets some unexpected interference, Marty finds himself stuck 30 years in the past. He quickly discovers that even small changes in the past can have far-reaching consequences. Marty must set history back on the right course and find a way back to 1985 before he loses his chance at both.
If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious shit.
Back to the Future presents some fascinating concepts and has its share of thrills, but the best part about it is the fun factor. It’s truly a joy to watch, and the comedy hasn’t lost any of its edge in the last 32 years. The movie has aged well: the dialogue, the soundtrack, and even the special effects all still work well. I imagine this movie will still be loved 30 years from now. It’s just that good.
Admittedly, Back to the Future is not a movie that will make you think about life’s great mysteries and problems. Things are morally very black and white: the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad, and the gap between them is huge and uncrossable. But this movie never set out to ask philosophical questions; it aimed to be a fun movie to help viewers unwind. It’s a great choice for a movie night or a little pick-me-up after a long day of work or school, and it seems to get better with repeated viewings. And, let’s be honest, we spend more time wanting to have fun than we do wanting to question the meaning of life.
Back to the Future is accessible to just about anyone, and it’s almost universally enjoyed. It’s pretty family-friendly, if that’s a concern. Whether you appreciate its significance as a sci-fi movie or not, you will appreciate its success as a fun adventure. If you haven’t seen this movie, I would recommend checking it out as soon as possible—preferably with a group of friends.
Winner: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing (Charles L. Campbell, Robert R. Rutledge)
Nominations: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale), Best Sound (Bill Varney, B. Tennyson Sebastian II, Robert Thirlwell, William B. Kaplan), Best Music, Original Song (Chris Hayes, Johnny Colla, Huey Lewis, “The Power of Love”)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Genres: adventure, sci-fi