“Yes, definitely. Goddamn it, George, swear.”
Everyone’s going Back To The Future crazy today (and thank Goodness, a certain Force Awakening may burn itself out by Thanksgiving. Well, not really, but still) We’re watching Part II tonight of course, it being 10/21/15. But we started with the iconic original last night and a few thoughts struck me.
-I don’t know if it was Robert Zemeckis or Bob Gale or the studio or Mr. Silvestri himself who made the call that Alan Silvestri’s score shouldn’t be comedic, just straight up sci-fi action. It’s very easy to imagine that rousing, wonderful score over action scenes from Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. They also incorporated of course, classics from the 1950’s like Mr. Sandman and Johnny B. Good and had deals with 1985’s chart-topping Huey Lewis And The News. A Musical Feast! And what plays over the opening credits? Ticking clocks. Not a single song. The time-measuring itself becomes the music. Power Of Love doesn’t kick in until after Zemeckis credit and technically, Marty McFly plays the first musical note. A great understatement amongst an embarrassment of riches. The lesson here is knowing the right moment WHEN to use the music.
-Some may call Christopher Lloyd’s character over the top and wildly animated. I would disagree. Mr. Lloyd gives a masterclass on total commitment to a character which is evident in that all of the zany is completely 100% motivated. There’s very wasted little wasted motion in these movies and there’s nothing Doc Brown does that’s without purpose. In fact, I think Christopher Lloyd would also play a great Doctor. Who?
-Actually Back To The Future may be one of the closet things America has produced to Doctor Who. The mad eccentric and benevolent stranger who come to town to put things on the right track. And in saving themselves, they save the town or vice versa. In fact, to the uninitiated I may just say “Doctor Who is like Back To The Future, only imagine Doc Brown and Marty McFly are the same person.”
-You ever notice young Billy Zane is one of Biff’s thugs? He’s called “Match” but maybe his last name is Hockley and he’s a prick descendent of Caledon Cal Hockley after the family settled in America after the Titanic sank?
-I also love that Courtney Gains later famous as The ‘Burbs’ Hans Klopek is the final creeper in George McFly’s quest to win the hand of Lorraine. I know it’s Back To The Future day but WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE ‘BURBS ENOUGH! THAT MOVIE IS AMAZING!!!
-I don’t know what Lea Thompson is doing but we all need to be on her diet. She seems to be the one genuinely time traveling and defying ages these days.
-Back To The Future is a very meta type series. In the first film, we laugh at the 1950’s assumptions about the future, nuclear wars et al. But now, we get laugh at Back To The Future II’s assumptions about the future since we are sans hoverboards and Jaws 19 (dammit.) I don’t think that was entirely by accident either. These guys are smart and are laughing with us the entire trilogy.
-When Michael J Fox leaves this world, I believe it will be Marty McFly and not Alex P Keaton that will get top billing in his career achievements. I think that’s right. But of course, his work for Parkinson’s awareness and treatment trumps all of that. The guy’s just a hero, saving his family onscreen and off.
-If written today, I can’t help but worry there would notes and readers saying “Get to the past quicker! We don’t need all that preamble in the beginning! Start the movie when Doc gets shot!” I hope not, but I worry. I kept thinking “they wouldn’t let this movie take this much time for setup in Act 1 – and all of it is vital to the payoff of the movie.” (Side note, I love ya, Black List but once one of the readers said of my script, TV news & newspapers are cheap ways to explain stuff and are forced. I’m guessing that reader never saw Back To The Future.)
-Back To The Future is about as airtight a story as you’ll find. Everything is paid off. In fact, for screenwriters who have trouble with that – Back To The Future should be studied greatly. Even the background design serves a clear purpose. As a kid I remember two moments when the audience just howled with laughter – the visit from Darth Vader armed with Van Halen and the ending when Marty’s life is totally rewritten. They laughed at other stuff but I remember cheers like it was a football game or something. THAT is payoff.
-But Back To The Future is not perfect. Few movies are and that’s the struggle of the artist. I don’t care if I do knock him out, someone tries to rape my girlfriend, he’s not going to become my auto-detail guy.
-Back To The Future II is not up the level of the first film. They do the old serial cheat in the beginning with Biff now seeing the Delorean flying but hey, that’s OK. Let’s all go along for the ride. Especially because I will argue that the Act III of Back To The Future II is off the charts. And when Marty McFly comes running back into frame, “I’ve just come back FROM the future.” And then they ROLL THE TRAILER FOR PART III – I’ll say it, one of the best cliffhangers in movie history. I’ll be honest – I’ll take an in-movie trailer over a wraparound any day. Yup, I said it.
-But my favorite thing about Back To The Future, I’m sure others have noticed this as well but some may not because Doc is so funny but Marty is so cool at times – but in reality, those two are the town losers. Doc is the eccentric weirdo holed up in his house. Marty is the guy in a band that fails auditions and is ashamed of his pushover Dad. These guys are the schmucks of Hill Valley. But together, they march a different path that brings them to the greatest adventure of their lives. At the end of the day, this is a movie not about time machines or 1.21 gigawatts or any of that stuff – it’s about two friends who will help each other across time itself because in that crisis, they’ve only got each other.
Enjoy the entire Back To The Future trilogy today. I’ve seen them like 50 times and I look forward to seeing them 50 more.
For some more Back To The Future fun, the good folks at fanboy comics knock it out of the park: http://fanboycomics.net/index.php/fanboy-scoop/stop-the-presses/item/5721
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