Michael J. Fox is a big deal to my family. I share a birthday with him, my dad claims my brother is named after his Family Ties character Alex P. Keaton, and my grandfather had Parkinson’s disease, so I have a soft spot for his ultimate teen character, Marty McFly. Fox is adorably charming as a teen who travels into the past and meets his high school aged parents and accidentally ruins their meeting, keeping them from falling in love. If he cannot set things right, he may erase his own existence. Luckily, he tracks down time machine inventing scientist and present day pal Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and the two hatch a plan to make Marty’s parents fall in love and get him home.
The film really has fun with putting Marty in this very familiar but still foreign territory. He is shocked to find out his mother drinks (!), smokes (!), and wants to have sex (!) with him! He’s horrified to find out his father is not only a socially retarded nerd, but a peeping Tom. He constantly puts his foot in his mouth as he repeatedly refers to technology or products that are unknown to people in 1955. The soda shop scene where he slowly pieces together where he is pretty perfect. Eventually he gets the hang of it and scares his father into attending the school dance by disguising himself as Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan.
While the film is a lot of fun, the part that makes me shake my head the most is the scene where Marty performs at the school dance and a voice of a Southern blues rocker comes out of his 5’4 frame. It’s completely laughable and pretty dated. If made today they would have just gotten Zac Efron or something and had him sing his own songs. Another thing that I really don’t buy is that Marty and Jennifer are this epic love affair. I mean, they are clearly making fun of young love when Marty gushes about the note Jennifer gave him but to think that they would get married and have kids one day, yeah, no. It reminds me of the moment in Ferris Bueller when Ferris talks about marrying Sloan. What’s with all these teenage guys rushing to the altar? It must be an 80s thing or something. I blame Reagan.
The emotional heart of the film is the friendship and Marty and Doc Brown. It says something about the two actors that majority of the time we see them together is when Marty finds 1955 Doc Brown, who he is a complete stranger to, but you can still see how important to each other they are destined to become.
I can’t watch too many time travel movies in a row because I over-think it and get freaked out. I’ll have nightmares about scenarios where somebody goes back in time and erases my existence. I am totally aware I’m a crazy person, don’t worry. Then Crack.com had an article which pointed out that when Marty returns to his new awesome life, he’s at a total disadvantage because he doesn’t share memories with his own family. Think of all the awkward moments Marty will have to endure. He’ll have to smile and nod when his sibling reminisce about that trip the family took to Disney World and they’ll think he’s a crazy person when he mentions anything that happened in the reality where they’re poor. And, with the way time travel work in this film, there’s a timeline where Marty never comes home. So those people are poor, drunk losers, and their son disappears one day. Totally depressing!
One thing I’ve always wondered, is Marty popular in 1985 Hill Valley? He’s portrayed as this cool guy but their something off about it. I think it’s because he’s poor. To bring back Ferris Bueller, they have very similar attitudes but Ferris’ parents have money so he’s a big freaking deal at his school.
I have mixed feelings about the sequels. While they have entertaining there’s something kind of unnecessary about them. And the fact that Marty keeps having to go back to that same dance every time, it just seems lazy to me. However, I do appreciate the second film’s darker tone. I also crack up whenever Lea Thompson dramatically tells Biff he can have her fake boobs back and Michael J. Fox playing his own daughter is really freaking cute. But the film has a lot of over the top moments, like when Marty is fired, that don’t really work for me. However, they have fun moments, so they can stay.