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Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future is a 1985 American science-fiction adventure film. It is directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson. The film tells the story of Marty McFly, a teenager who is accidentally sent back in time from 1985 to 1955. He meets his future-parents in high school and accidentally attracts his future mother's romantic interest. Marty must repair the damage to history by causing his parents-to-be to fall in love, and with the help of scientist Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown, he must find a way to return to 1985. Zemeckis and Gale wrote the script after Gale mused upon whether he would have befriended his father if they attended school together. Various film studios rejected the script until the financial success of Zemeckis' Romancing the Stone, after which the project was set up at Universal Pictures with Spielberg as an executive producer. Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly when Michael J. Fox was busy filming the TV series Family Ties.
For Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), life is a series of major obstacles and minor tragedies. His father (Crispin Glover) is a put-upon underling in a dead-end job, constantly persecuted by his bullying supervisor Biff (Thomas F. Wilson). His mother (Lea Thompson) is a sour, suspicious housewife. One night, Marty agrees to help his bumbling buddy, Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) with one of his crazy experiments. Turns out, the mad scientist has created a working time machine and a mishap sends Marty back to 1955. There, he meets up with his mother, father, and Biff, all lost in their Ike era teenage issues. Even worse, his parents don't even like each other, and without their eventual romance and marriage, Marty's family will never exist. It's up to our hero to play matchmaker while finding a way to avoid his mother's advances and get back to his own time.
Back to the Future is pert near perfect. It's a flawless bit of fun which offers one of the most satisfying and sophisticated storylines of the popular popcorn experience. This was the film that made Michael J. Fox a superstar, that turned Christopher Lloyd into a hitmaker icon, and established Zemeckis as the rightful heir to the Spielberg throne. It was not a problem-free production. Original lead Eric Stoltz was fired after a few weeks, his take on the material not consistent with what the rest of the cast and crew wanted. The time machine design went through several unsuccessful phases before the in-joke idea of a DeLorean automobile was settled upon. And even though they had faith in Zemeckis and his co-writer Bob Gale, the studio was shaky on the whole 'mother falling for the son' storyline. They thought viewers might get the wrong impression.
There was no real need to worry. From its whimsical look at young love and romantic destiny to the numerous action sequences handled with pinpoint adrenalin accuracy, Back to the Future remains what it was in the beginning -- a classic. Thanks to the memorable performances from everyone involved (Fox, Lloyd, Thompson, Glover, and Wilson are all wonderful here) and a narrative that never stops evolving into something more breathtaking and satisfying, this is masterful moviemaking at its very best. In some ways, Zemeckis has never been better as he is here. Even his Oscar for Forrest Gump pales in comparison. There is an effervescence to the filmmaking, a bubbling, giddy effortlessness that's almost addictive. Unlike current F/X epics that substitute bombast for plot logic, everything works here -- the casting, the characterizations, and the complicated, creative story.
As 1985's biggest hit, Back to the Future was more than just a moneymaker. It illustrated an artistic sentiment that struggled to be recognized above the high concept studio swill of the time. Today, it may seem a little corny and self-conscious, but that's hindsight messing with perspective. As an example of unadulterated cinematic greatness, you won't find another more enjoyable or fulfilling.
Check out the DVD set of all three Back to the Future movies, a huge bargain at under 20 bucks.
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