Back to the Future (1985)

back to the future poster 1985 movie michael j fox
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Holds up well, good story

Some dated effects

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Back to the Future

Studio:  Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/U-Drive Productions

Genre(s):  Comedy/Family/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  July 3, 1985

MPAA Rating:  PG

back to the future doc brown marty mcfly time travel michael j fox christopher lloyd

Yes! I graduated from driving a taxi in New York to driving a time machine!

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) spends his time playing music, hanging out with his girlfriend Jennifer (Claudia Wells), and doing odds-and-ins for the eccentric Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd).  His parents George (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine (Lea Thompson) struggle financially while his father is picked on by his employer and former schoolmate Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson).  When Doc Brown reveals to Marty that he’s invented a time machine, Marty finds himself accidentally back in the 1950s and struggling to return home.  Unfortunately, Marty has threatened the entire future and his own life by wrecking the first meeting between his parents…and he only has a week to fix the time machine and his relationship.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (who wrote the script with Bob Gale), Back to the Future is a sci-fi comedy.  The film was a box office success and received positive reviews.  It received the Academy Award for Best Sound Effects Editing with nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound, and Best Song (“The Power of Love”).  It was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2007.

back to the future george mcfly lorraine lea thompson crispin glover

Do you think we’ll look back on school and question why are son looks so much like Calvin Klein…or why he had the same name as the clothing designer?

I can remember seeing Back to the Future in the theater as a kid and being blown away.  It was one of those seminal movies of childhood that you rented multiple times and watched whenever it was on.  As a result I ODed on Back to the Future a bit and don’t visit often…but I enjoy it when I do.

The story is smart but it does sometimes play fast-and-loose with the rules of time travel.  These issues aren’t really addressed in this film, but are covered in the sequels.  It has a strange balance with parallel worlds and alternate timelines that isn’t necessarily clear.  The movie instead decides to just be fun.  It is dated which is somewhat intentional since Marty leaves a very real 1985 for a very idealized 1955.  As a result some jokes (like jokes about Tab, etc.) might not land with younger viewers.

The cast is perfect.  Michael J. Fox replaced Eric Stoltz as his fame was rising on Family Ties and he gets the right tone and balance.  Christopher Lloyd always seems to play the same type of character, but it really works here.  Crispin Glover gets to be his weird self as the introverted and goofy George McFly while Lea Thompson is a perfect 1950s girl (with an edge)…but both Glover and Thompson’s “old” versions are a bit much.  Claudia Wells is replaced in the second film due to an illness in her family, so it is a bit odd here.  Thomas F. Wilson is a great bully as Bif (though relegating him to just “bully” a bit of a downplaying of his actions since he was going to rape Lea Thompson’s character), and  the movie features small cameos by Jason Hervey, Billy Zane, Marc McClure, Wendie Jo Sperber, and Huey Lewis.

back to the future marty mcfly guitar johnny b good michael j fox

Too much?

The movie looked great in 1985, but some of the effects haven’t aged well.  While most of the effects are practical (which helps), the movie’s classic fire trails don’t look very good now.  What does work is the smart set-designs and the details that go into the future and past versions of the city…plus, every kid wanted a DeLorean after the release.

Back to the Future is a classic.  It holds up for the most part but some aging can’t be denied.  It is a fun, layered story that gets better with each viewing.  If you haven’t seen it, you should…and why haven’t you?  Hello…McFly?!?!  Back to the Future was followed by Back to the Future Part II in 1989.

Related Links:

Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Back to the Future Part III (1990)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

One Comment on "Back to the Future (1985)"

  1. john dent August 17, 2011 at 3:33 am - Reply

    This movie is still awesome

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