Back to the Future (1985)

Start your DeLorean engines, because Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future is a rollicking ride across space and time! Released in 1985, this endlessly rewatchable popcorn comedy follows 1980s teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) who accidentally travels 30 years into the past using eccentric Doc Brown’s (Christopher Lloyd) time machine. Having to make his parents fall in love all over again without erasing his own existence results in hilarity, hijinks, and some genuine heart. Let’s hit 88mph and relive the magic!

From Alan Silvestri’s iconic opening score as we pan across Doc Brown’s wall of clocks, the set dressing and props here are creative delights. The real ‘50s cars and neon-kissed buildings combined with retro sci-fi elements make Hill Valley feel like a lived-in real location (because it is – it was shot on the Universal Studios backlot). Zemeckis delivers a past at once nostalgic yet eccentric.

Of course, Fox and Lloyd make comedy magic as our leads. Fox walks a perfect line between snarky ‘80s teen and earnest warmth as the ever-relatable Marty. And Lloyd steals scenes as the wild-haired mad scientist Doc, crafting big humor from subtle eccentric touches. Thomas F. Wilson also kills it as bully Biff Tannen in all eras. The ensembleclicks together seamlessly.

From chuckling at ‘80s Marty trying to explain walked man cassette players to 1955Doc, to cringing at Marty’s mom taking a little too much of a shine to him, the fish-out-of-water humor sings. Some jokes feel dated, but the deft culture clash writing keeps the belly laughs coming. Marty waking up to find pop culture drastically changedaround him makes for an iconic payoff.

I won’t spoil plot details of course, but Back to the Future cleverly mines its high concept for both laughs and some genuinely moving family drama amidst the zany sci-fi hijinks. Is it a bit sugary sweet at times? Sure, but its heart is in the right place. And the friendship between Marty and Doc remains truly touching, even once we discover Doc’s backstory.

Some may critique the lighter tone as too Disney-fied, but the nearly perfect screenplay keeps things sincere. Zemeckis ultimately achieved that nearly impossible balance between crowd-pleasing entertainment and creative spark. The VFX still impress, from hovering skateboards to flaming tire tracks. Back to the Future showed sci-fi doesn’t have to be dark to resonate.

Upon release, Future became the year’s top grossing film and launched one of the most beloved film franchises ever. With its mix of humor, romance, action, and thought-provoking paradoxes, it remains endlessly rewatchable for all ages. Let Zemeckis and company take you back in time to the 50s and 80s and appreciate this ingeniously constructed rollercoaster again or for the first time. It’s the quintessential popcorn fun. Great Scott!

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