Back to the Movie Theatre: Back to the Future

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 come to life (“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 *****

24 thoughts on “Back to the Movie Theatre: Back to the Future

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    1. So nice to hear another movie fanatic embrace this masterpiece as well! Something has to be said for how well this still holds up (including Huey Lewis and the News). Overall, it’s joyful. It is glorious filmmaking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I live in Auckland and we’re back in lockdown after 4 cases were detected in the city. Seems like a good decision, even if painful, because there were two dozen cases linked to these four, and hopefully no more 🙂 We’ll see if they’ll keep the lockdown on later today.

        As for Back to the Future – I’m on board even with the time travel – infinitely better than in MCU Infinity War, for example! 😀 I absolutely love the first movie, and I even like the cheesy 3rd, but the 2nd didn’t age well 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow. You were the success story (among others), and the virus continues to prevail. Yeah, my worry is that we will remain online for the entire semester. This is not the way any music class is intended. I’m hoping for at least a hybrid scenario in which I can see half of my kids one day and the other half the next.

          Yes – I cannot condone anything MCU (same movie, 27 different titles), but I understand its existence as brainless fodder entertainment.

          Back to the Future I and III are remarkable, but II was darker and more “icky” than it had to be, and I didn’t like it when it first came out…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. We’re still the success story 😉 But the second wave was inevitable, and I’m still pretty happy with how it turn out for now.
            Yeah, I can totally relate. Especially band practice is nearly impossible and probably motivation for playing just goes down (though it probably depends on how old your kids are ;))

            I’m pretty ok with some MCU movies – Winter Soldier was very good, imo, with a message going beyond entertainment, and the first Iron Man and Black Panther too. I really like the first unapologetically bombastic Thor as well, but they ruined the character totally afterwards.

            Yeah, the second part was ailing in many regards – the story, the version of future(s), and when I watched it quite recently I still didn’t like it 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Well, that’s an impressive response to the second wave. I’m sure the second wave in the states will shut us all down in late Sept/early Oct. Vaccine in Dec maybe? Good vibes to us all 🙂

              I was all in when X-Men came out, as well as its sequel and the third…But, then I saw through the formula. Iron Man came out and continued pounding the scheme of the superhero with powers that work at a specific time (always the end) to conclude an entertainment industry 21 times and counting. Black Panther was impressive to me but still beaming with predictability. I dunno – sometimes, I can turn off the brain and just enjoy, but how many times and how many Batmans (I know that DC, but that’s my point) to kill how many Jokers (and now, Penguins)?

              Sorry, I went off there.

              Safety and health to you! Back to the Future was the wholesome escape I needed, and I’m glad you can relate!

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Yeah, 2020 is a peculiar year all right, and I dearly hope the next will be better!

              I can’t stand X-Men Last Stand, and was pretty happy to see that botched version of X-Men universe disappear in Days of the Future Past 🤣 I can’t believe I’m going to act as a MCU advocate, since I’m usually their harshest critic, but apart from the redundancy of the franchise, more and more pronounced with subsequent movies, some of them are still worth watching. I re-watched Spider-Man: Homecoming recently and was really impressed with the cinematic storytelling and acting there. Sure, it’s a story we all know by now, but in modern cinema there aren’t many new stories anyway, and interesting, ambiguous villains are always in demand 😉 And while I despise that carefully constructed money grab that particularly Disney is so fond of (the new SW trilogy, ugh) I still prefer Black Panther to the new Shaft 🤣 I totally get you, though – I’m pretty irritated in general with MCU because they chose safety and money over risk and originality. I read many of the comics that were supposedly the foundation for the movies, and I see the movies as a lost chance to convey the vision, controversy and importance of some of the comics’ storylines.

              Stay safe, Bernie!

              Liked by 1 person

  1. What a way to be welcomed back to the theater! This is an all-time classic and it’s still bewildering to me how this is the only one of the trilogy I have seen. You read me right: I have not seen II and III. It’s okay if you want to take away my movie critic status for admitting to that 😉

    I am still very leery of going out myself, but I was having this discussion with another blogger the other day. In some aspects, I can see a theater being safer and more hygienic than supermarkets. Especially places I don’t trust already, like Wal-mart. The wait is absolutely killing me on Tenet, so I’m probably going to have to do some backtracking on what I have been saying and go ahead and see that in the best environment we can possibly hope to have right now. Like you said, a socially distanced theater. It does make me wonder though how Warner Bros feels about potentially losing like, what, half the money they would otherwise make if theaters were at max capacity? I don’t see any situation anywhere in this country that is going to allow for full crowds. But maybe I’m wrong. There is just a ton of stupid out there right now. And I feel like I’m drowning in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear from you, Tom, and thank you for your thoughts. You’re right: The way theatre socially distance seats won’t sustain itself, yet there’s no way a sensible human should walk into a sold out theatre of any kind. My wife and I felt safe last night. Very safe, in fact. My advice for your Tenet viewing (I can’t wait either) is to reserve the very back row. I probably would have felt paranoid is someone was behind me no matter what the ventilation flow in the room. We will get there. Every community is different. Denver is very cautious. Go a few miles south of the city, no one wears masks except to a grocery store. Two different worlds. Best to you, keep watching, and stay safe, brother 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bernie I would LOVE to see this in a theater. This movie is as 80s as you can get…the great part of the 1980s. Seeing a movie in a theater changes the entire movie. You are watching it like it was meant to be watched. Bailey and I have watched a lot of older movies at a theater…before the world burned. We will watch more when the world cools down again.

    Oh about the movie…sorry… Christopher Lloyd just makes it to me. I love Time Travel movies anyway and this one is great…I can’t watch this one without watching them all. I may have to fire them all up again.

    The film was right about Miami getting a baseball team and pretty close on predicting the Cubs winning in 2015…it was 2016 but hey…really close. Now…where is my hoverboard???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was no hesitation when our local theatre opened an offered some promiseless new releases and an assortment of oldies. My dad reminded me that we DID see it in the theatre when it premiered. It was like a dream last night! So fun, innocent, well written, and yes – Christopher Lloyd’s madness energy is just a blast to watch, and it keeps the expositional stuff moving with humor!

      Wow, the baseball references were really close, huh?

      I wonder what they’d foresee with this anomaly season!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t remember if I saw this or not when it premiered. It is a fun movie and a great one for some escapism which we all need. I really want to see it again now. Bailey really saw the difference in movies when we watched The Shining on big screen. It changes a movie…or should I say watching it on a TV changes movies.
        We are on a constant lookout for old movies playing now. We have a theater that does that. We saw the 89 Batman, Superfly, and a few others before life stopped.

        How did they make you sit in the theater? Did you have to wear a mask while sitting? How far apart were you to everyone else? Sorry for the questions but Bailey and I are thinking of going soon.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Love these questions! We felt pretty safe: Masks on at all times unless eating or drinking, units (families, couples) sat together, but there was some good six feet (two chairs) between us on all directions, no concessions you could actually touch, immaculate bathrooms and lobby, helpful staff, and amped ventilation throughout the building. I think it’s worth it. And, you’re right – there’s a vulnerability in the theatre that makes movies like The Shining and Back to the Future transport into a different world, and that lack of home comfort makes it more entertaining and “escape” for 2+ hours! I sure hope our local community continues to wear masks and watch this virus disappear…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks for anwering those questions Bernie. I know the people who own movie theaters are really hurting. They make their money off of concessions. I don’t mind wearing my mask at all…I wish other people felt that way more.

            You notice things you never would at home. You are more tuned in…that makes a big difference. Oh yea…another movie we enjoyed was The Godfather II…it was like watching a new movie.
            Lets fire up the DeLorean and get the hell out of this year!

            Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think so no… I was trying to think if I did…if I did it escapes me and usually I remember. I possibly could have seen one of the sequels.

        Liked by 2 people

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