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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: Back to the Future

What if you could travel backwards in time?

Where would you go?

And, most importantly, why?

Regardless of the physics behind time travel, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) winds up going back in time aboard a time machine built by his mentor, the quintessential nutty professor Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd, no relation to Jake Lloyd). This time machine, built out of a retooled DeLorean (As the good doctor says, "The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?"), takes Marty on a journey thirty years into the past, to the 1950s, at a time when his parents were teenagers, in a a very different yet very much the same era. Marty is going to have to figure out a way to get home, keep things from getting out of hand with temporal paradoxes and what not (it's all a bit complicated), and get back to the future!

Okay, the breathless summary aside, I genuinely loved this movie, having a big smile plastered on my face by the end, and often throughout. It was, at its core, fun and funny. It's seldom enough, however, for a film to be either of those things. It has to be fun and funny in a clever way. And Back to the Future is very clever. From the subtly paced opening scene to the here-we-go-again conclusion, I had fun the whole way through. Without spoiling the plot, I can tell you that the entire movie is laced with irony, brick jokes, and historical in-jokes. Where a shopping mall stands in 1985 is merely a cornfield in 1955. People poke fun at Marty for wearing a life jacket, and the same show that Marty's dad was watching on TV in 1985 is airing for the first time in 1955. It all adds up to one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.

Back to the Future is very fast paced, but not so much as to be frenetic. Its gags and execution are perfectly timed, with every last thread coming together at the end. All of the characters have an exaggerated quality to them, a subtle sense of melodrama being present in this film. However, it's not too strong a dose of that potent factor, with most of the focus being on humor and fun. The characters, while exaggerated, are all very relatable. Marty's incredulity at his circumstances reflects that of the audience, making him an unlikely candidate for the role of the only sane man. It also casts him in the role of Doc Brown's straight man. It's especially beneficial that there's a great dynamic between the characters.

Speaking of characters, this film may not seem like it could be called a character piece, but it nails exactly that. The core message of the film is that our parents were teenagers too, and they had much the same problems then that we younger generation have today. It's a concept which was relevant in 1985 and remains relevant now. The film is actually quite thought provoking, deep down. However, this film is not all roses and no thorns. There's a significant amount of swearing and a quick dose of sexual content. Talking to you parents out there, I'd only watch this with the older kids. On a less serious note, for you fans of hard science-fiction, you'll find it pretty soft, but it's nonetheless hugely entertaining. On the whole, Back to the Future is a great movie with a great cast, a great script, and a great story. Easily one of the best films I've ever seen.

RATING: 9.5/10

Image courtesy of impawards.com