Back to the movie theatre, back to the popcorn (we ended up just getting Twizzlers to be safe), back to the big screen in the dark, and Back to the Future.
For me, Back to the Future (1985) is more innate than nostalgic, but nothing beats watching it in the most nostalgic of places.
I’m overjoyed to have experienced a movie theatre again, and to hear and see Michael J. Fox say, “You built a time machine out of a DeLorean?” several years after my last viewing is just heartwarming.
This was babysitter go-to material when I was a kid in the 80s. I remember all of my babysitters who popped it into the VCR (it was an illegally dubbed copy my dad made, and I can still see his handwriting on the cheap tape label). I think I’ve seen it a dozen times. And, yes, I have a vague but simultaneously assured memory that I saw this with my mom and dad when it premiered in the theatre. Mom? Dad? Can you confirm this?
Last night was special. It was an amalgamation of: 1. Audible memories (“Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Huh?” and the car horn and gas station dings that matched the beat to “Mr. Sandman” upon Marty McFly’s 1955 arrival at the Hill Valley center) 2. New discoveries (2015 is in the past, and we still don’t have flying cars) and 3. Goosebumps (the first time we see the DeLorean convert into two flaming tire tracks still did it for me).
There is an airtight seamlessness to Back to the Future’s exposition, rising action, and epic climax. It’s the fastest 116 minutes of a movie I have ever experienced. Thanks to Christopher Lloyd’s wide-eyed “Doc,” the necessary energy keeps the explanatory, (non-scientific) scientific dialogue flowing. Then, there’s the witty setup of Biff and “McFly” that occurs in ’85 and recurs 30 years in the past at the central, jukebox sitting diner (which ends up being a women’s fitness studio—another discovery I didn’t catch back in the day).
I’m blessed to have a much younger wife. She fits in the millennial category. She laughed the most when Michael J. Fox goes to town on the electric guitar at the Enchantment under the Sea dance. “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But, your kids are gonna love it!” (Chuck Berry certainly did.) I guess my wife enjoyed this scene the most, and that makes me happy.
Yes, the big screen exposes some shoddy aging makeup with synthetic facial fillers, and, yes, any movie about time travel will include loopholes.
But, Back to the Future is all about suspension of disbelief. The vanishing of Marty and his siblings on the polaroid is an ingenious visual cue that literally and metaphorically demonstrates the butterfly effect of past events on the future.
It is simply joy moviefied, and a made up word here feels as natural as traveling back in time.
Lastly, something has to be said about the soaring, melodic, and heroic film score by Alan Silvestri. It is also innate to me, and it sizes up to anything John Williams. The brass motif complements and empowers the bullied, the ridiculed, and “McFly’d” out there. In a way, Back to the Future is an ode to the underdog. Doc, Marty, and Marty’s dad prevail in the end.
Walking out of the very clean, socially distanced, and cautiously staffed movie theatre, I felt like my wife and I prevailed.
It had been five months since our last movie theatre viewing. We have and see hope in our local community regarding the pandemic, and as trivial as a visit to a movie theatre can be, it is actually quite the contrary these days.
Right now, it’s all about the little things. Last night, we went back to the future, and we will be back for more.
Back to the Future (1985) ***** out of *****