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So after Back to the Future was the top grossing movie of 1985, you knew that the open-ending was going to go somewhere.
Where did it go? To the motherfucking FUTURE! Where they don’t need roads, where Hill Valley is, ever more, ghetto. Doc Brown brings Marty to the future to stop his son from getting arrested and being jailed for 15 years, which makes his daughter try and help him escape, causing her to go to jail for 20 years. So Marty takes care of that, but, then Marty discovers an almanac and Biff’s been following them around, and he sees the almanac and takes it back to his teenaged self in 1955 so that he can amass a fortune.
And this is unbeknownst to Doc and Marty until they get back to 1985 where Biff’s casino and hotel have been placed where the clock tower and his mother is married to him. As a result, they have to go back to 1955 to get the almanac to Biff to keep things in line.
But, right as Marty’s about to get into the Delorean, which had been having trouble keeping any date in its time-of-destination window that wasn’t in 1885, Doc and the time machine are zapped away into the past. And then it says, “To Be concluded…”
And it’s concluded in Back to the Future part III, where Marty meets up with Doc, who’s now a blacksmith in the Old West version of Hill Valley. There’s the TannenMcFly rivalry, now transposed onto Doc who might just get shot if something isn’t done about the 80 dollars he owes Biff’s relatives.
So they handle their shit and get Marty back into the normal 1985.
What’s done is done. They may even be making a Back to the Future 4, maybe with the train time machine, who knows.
Anyway, as singular movies, Parts II and III are lackluster attempts are regaining the magic of the first movie. There’s all the ironies and the origins and the pussy-McFly turned learned-McFly themes. It all begins to wear on you after awhile. Although it’s good that they chose to focus more on Doc in the third movie because another movie about Marty getting into some crazy hijinx and having to whisk away in some sort of kickass fashion had been getting old.
In fact, by the third film, the whole idea had gotten old. Biff’s an ass, Marty’s great, Doc’s crazy but a genius, we get it. They simply kept rehashing jokes from the first film, trying to constantly bank on its success–which they did. The concepts themselves were different enough, but time travel movies require a bit of explication and Doc with his “Great Scott’s” and his “Damn’s” and his insanity begins to get on my nerves.
What also kind of got at me was that, when 1985 Doc goes back into the past, and meets Clara, he has children. Isn’t he about 65 years old by this time? But then I remembered that, in the future, he went to a rejuvenation clinic that fixed him right up so that he can spread his seed…
And I wonder if Jules or Verne lived in Hill Valley–or if they weren’t allowed to have children… Or if Doc murdered them once they hit puberty.
But, at the end of the day, these films are a shitload of fun and ones that will shut the kids up for two hours at a time. I even got to go to Jamestown, California, where they filmed this movie. It’s an old west revival town up in some podunk part of the Sierra Nevadas. It was okay, I can’t recommend it, even if you’re a big fan of the films. Just go to Universal Studios Hollywood and oggle the clocktower if it’s still there (I doubt it.).
But I guess my recommendation is to not watch all three movies in a weekend or a day, because they’ll begin to blur together and become one 6 hour future film in the past.
So if you haven’t heard of this movie in the 23 years since its first release, you probably live under a rock.
And for those who need refreshing, let’s refresh: Marty McFly is a 17-year-old high school kid living in 1985. He’s smart and popular and funny and cool and he has a great girlfriend. He wears Calvin Klein underwear. He auditions with his band playing Huey Lewis and the News. He’s the all-around kid you wanna be.
So when he first goes over to see Doc Brown before school, you begin to wonder why he hangs out with this crazy scientist. And that is actually something that bothered me. It still kind of bothers that, although they first met in 1955 when Marty had traveled back in time on accident, they didn’t show them meeting for the first time when Marty was younger. That’s something I wonder about. What was that scene like?
And it probably doesn’t help that the DeLorean looks like a vehicle tricked out to allure kids into the pedophile’s lair, much like a model train set.
But that’s just a minor setback. Anywho, after proving to everyone how cool Marty is, and how shitty his family life is (alcoholic mother, pussy of a father, etc.), we see the unveiling of the time machine outside of the Twin Pines Mall. It’s one badass car, running on gas and plutonium stolen by Doc for some Libyan terrorists who he instead gave a box of junk. So they’re pissed.
And they come into the parking lot, guns ablazin’, ready to kill a motherfucker. They get Doc, shooting him multiple times, and then they go after Marty, whose only way to escape was in the time machine.
And so he hauls ass to get away, hitting 88 miles per hour, and blasting back into 1955, when Doc first came up with the idea for time travel.
From there, we get a hilarious chain of events that begins with him getting hit by the car that was supposed to hit his father. And then his mother becomes hot for her son. And so Marty’s main goal is making Lorraine and his father, George, fall in love some other way.
Which they do, everything is successful and Marty returns to the future.
What’s most interesting about the setpieces and the filmmaking is that it seems like Zemeckis, the director, approached 1985 as if it were a year in the past. He seems to have approached it in the same way they approached 1955: by going after all the stereotypes of what people were like then. So Marty wears Calvin Klein underwear, rides a skateboard, and the mall has destroyed the downtown.
And both time periods are impeccable. With one exception. 1955 was the height of the McCarthyism era, right? So why would any respectable person running for mayor call themselves Red? Is it to draw a parallel between the 1985 mayor whose name is Goldie? I couldn’t find any significance between the color names. Only that a guy named Red probably wouldn’t be elected to a mayor of a WASP, Mid-Western town in the 1950’s.
This is one of those classic movies that is so big and so outlandish that you have to respect it. It keeps you entertained through and through with its constant use of irony (ex: when Marty runs out of Young Lorraine’s house and her mother says, “If you ever have a kid like that, I’ll disown you.”), which also makes the laughs plentiful.
Of course, there are some obvious questions about time travel that were overlooked in the movie for the sheer ridiculousness of the whole idea of time travel. For instance, if, when Marty changed the chain of events and he comes back to a family that is happier and wealthier, wouldn’t his memories have changed too? At the least, he would have remembered getting that Bro-truck that he so lusted after in the first 1985.
But it’s easy to look over these things in the name of the movie. It does a great job entertaining the whole family with references to the fifties and the eighties alike. This was a great movie then, and it’s a great movie now… Though its sad that they’ve removed the kickass ride at Universal Studios in lieu of a brand new Simpsons ride.
And, seriously, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, see it. I can guarantee you it’ll be on TBS or USA within the next week.