BP’s Top 100 Challenge #56: Back to the Future, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list has a good number of films I hadn’t seen before so it is a good source for my challenge.
For full transparency, I grew up watching Back to the Future and its sequels, so I don’t think I can separate my nostalgic connection to this film. That being said, it has probably been five years since I watched the original. I have to say I still love it. Back to the Future is so much fun to watch. It has the same problems with the time travel logic that all time travel films have, but it doesn’t really bother me.
If you stop to think about Back to the Future too hard it can get really flimsy and kinda gross. Why does a teenage boy have such a close friendship with a middle-aged scientist? How do Marty’s parents never recognize him as the person who brought them together? Why did Marty come up with a plan that requires him to sexually assault his own mother in order to get his parents together? Questions like those don’t really matter to me. Marty and Doc Brown are friends, who cares why. His parents don’t know time travel is possible so they wouldn’t recognize Marty in that way. Marty needed to make his dad a hero, so he made a plan. Those answers are fine in my book.
What works so well is the juxtaposition of Marty in the 1950s. Michael J. Fox is fantastic as Marty, a modern kid from the mid-eighties stuck back in a quaint and charming time. The 1980s were all about rebellion against the norm and being unique and original and the 1950’s was a time of conformity and convenience. The running joke about Marty’s vest being a life preserver is just one of the many ways he is set apart. This all leads to one of my favorite scenes in the film, when Marty plays guitar and sings “Johnny B. Goode” at the school dance and taking his solo too far. The kids don’t know what to make of it but Marty assures them their kids will.
Another classic performance is Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown. Lloyd bring a fun, manic energy to every scene he is in as well as an adorable scientific spin to each new challenge Marty faces. The other performances in the film, like Crispin Glover as George, Lea Thompson as Lorraine, and Thomas F. Wilson as Biff all combine, thanks to Robert Zemeckis’ script and direction, to make a memorable comedy that is still a big part of pop culture today. The endlessly quotable lines, the memorable costumes, and the solid special effects combine to make to a great comedy. And, of course, the icing on the pop culture cake is the great Huey Lewis and The News soundtrack. I can’t wait to revisit the sequels again too.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Back to the Future ranking: Carrier