Today! Because the way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?
Back to the Future (1985)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis (x4)
Starring Michael J. Fox (x4), Christopher Lloyd (x6), Lea Thompson (x3), Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson (x3), James Tolkan (x5), Claudia Wells, Marc McClure (x4), Wendie Jo Sperber (x2), George DiCenzo (x2), Frances Lee McCain, Casey Siemaszko (x2), Billy Zane (x4), Donald Fullilove (x3), Jason Hervey (x2), Harry Waters Jr.
I mean, come on, you don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Back to the Future, right? Even with the incestuous overtones and the general lack of effects-heavy science-fictioning going on, it’s still one of everyone’s top sci-fi films ever made. It’s a little dated, sure, but it was such a towering staple of the ’80s that it gets a pass for the anachronistic jokes and references. Pepsi Free? Come on! By the time I first saw this movie – as I mentioned before, years after it had come out – I didn’t even know what the hell Pepsi Free was.
So what all is there to say about Back to the Future that hasn’t already been said? Well, it’s almost certainly the only reason one of the true loves of my life – Teen Wolf – managed to get in front of my eyes. Filmed before BttF, Teen Wolf rode the shelf until after it was released, capitalizing on the new megastar status of Michael J. Fox, thus becoming a far bigger hit than it deserved to be, and eventually finding its way to me. Had Eric Stoltz held onto Marty McFly, I’m guessing Teen Wolf would’ve gotten dumped into theaters and summarily forgotten. No Teen Wolf Too! No MTV’s Teen Wolf! Can you imagine that nightmare world?
Recently finding myself in Los Angeles, I lobbied my buddy Dave to drive us around and see the filming locations for Back to the Future, because this is the sort of thing that appeals to me. Somehow I didn’t realize that Lorraine’s 1950s house was also the Howard residence from Teen Wolf! I mean, you barely see the outside of the home in TW, but I still figure I would’ve run across that tidbit, they both being MJF movies filmed within months of each other.
The tree in which George McFly gets his pervy rocks off is still there too, in its ridiculous, borderline dangerous glory.
Also, George’s 1950s house is like two doors up the street:
Bushnell Avenue in Pasadena! Don’t bother the locals, they’re just trying to live their lives!
The highest grossing movie of 1985, and ninth highest ever when it completed its run, Back to the Future is a beloved classic and iconic masterpiece that it is frankly hard to oversell. It’s funny and exciting and full of great performances, even from as disparate talents as a completely manic Christopher Lloyd and a typically idiosyncratic Crispin Glover. Somehow it all fits together into perfect popcorn, summer movie entertainment. Even with all that near-incest.
And the sequels are fine too – II appeared on this list way back at #344, and I considered III but couldn’t fit it in – but obviously the greatest thing to emerge from the Back to the Future legacy, beyond the solid career of new Four-Timer director Zemeckis (with #375 Romancing the Stone and #105 Cast Away, too) and the return of the old timey “Great Scott!” exclamation, is its role in inspiring possibly the funniest television show in world history.
BttF won an Oscar for Visual Effects and was nominated for Screenplay, Sound, and Huey Lewis and the News’ “The Power of Love,” while the Globes put it up for Best Comedy/Musical, Screenplay, Song, and Fox for Best Actor. It lost to Prizzi’s Honor, which I haven’t seen in forever, but that doesn’t seem overly fair, no? Who’s talking about Prizzi’s Honor today?
The great Christopher Lloyd leads the advancing group today, reaching the Six-Timers (with BttF II, #154 Clue, #393 The Dream Team, #281 Buckaroo Banzai, and #182 Cuckoo’s Nest), while Principal Strickland James Tolkan (BttF II, #107 Love and Death, #193 They Might Be Giants, and #196 Dick Tracy) punches his ticket to the Fives!