Back to the Future is a 1985 sci-fi comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. It is one of the most well regarded and fondly remembered blockbusters from the eighties and there are many good reasons for that.
The story is about Marty McFly played by Fox who goes back in time to 1955 where he finds his mother infatuated with him and he has to make his parents fall in love or he would cease to exist. I don’t like when this film is referred to as science fiction when obviously in reality it is not. It has a science fiction element to it that drives the plot and having an element of the genre and being that genre entirely is not the same thing. But it is in the end such a clever approach for this film. It is in essence a comedy, it can even be called a romantic comedy, but it is for the most part a straight comedy with a sci-fi element that drives the story, the same way ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ or ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ are not fantasy films, but rather films with fantasy elements. It is a powerful mix that turned out to be great, especially in this decade where such family films thrived. And it is a family film and that is a bit problematic to me because I wanted a bit more serious film, but this movie is anything but serious. I would have been more happy with a bit more mature approach with more edge to it. But it is definitely a marvel for the whole family to enjoy.
The plot also has a definite potential incest story in it, the same way ‘A New Hope’ has it. It is weird, but it thankfully never goes fully into that territory but rather providing some comedy with it. As for the science fiction parts, they are great and are executed perfectly with solid effects. And the story is definitely original and quite authentic for a blockbuster with a great mix of genres, a playful and comedic tone to it as well as a huge heart at the center of it all. The time travel aspect is well executed with no evident plot holes. It is well constructed and smart, well connected and edited. As for the ending, it is absolutely a perfect conclusion to the story with excellent ending for all of the characters with a superb closing line by Doc as well. It is one of the most memorable ending sequences for sure.
The characters in Back to the Future are wonderfully developed and are the biggest reason why the film succeeds and is great to watch to this day. Marty is great as the protagonist, usually I do not like main characters as they are mostly too good a person and too heroic, but Marty is more realistic and definitely a likable person. As for Doc, he is of course excellent with his crazy persona, Einstein like appearance and he provides a bunch of terrific lines. He is a very good character, if slightly overrated. As for Lorraine, she is too sexual and annoying at times, but George is great as an unlikely nerdy father rarely portrayed in movies.
The acting is excellent all around. Michael J. Fox gives a standout performance here propelling his career, whereas Christopher Lloyd is of course iconic as Doc playing his goofy nature in a good way, if at times a bit too theatrically. As for the directing, Zemeckis proved here that he can be a great director when he is trying his best and it is unfortunate that he progressively got worse as his career moved forward. As for pacing and editing, they are problematic. It takes too much time to start and the ending is also too dragged and dressed in a typical high action, blockbuster clothing. The imagery is fine as are the costumes. The clothes in the film are so good and memorable. The sound and score of course are great while the tone is playful, comedic and with a lot of imagination, but also a bit too silly and childish at times. As for the humor, it is good with some funny moments, but never that funny and engaging.
Back to the Future has excellent and very memorable and wonderfully realized characters, smart and imaginative plot that is a great mix of genres, it has great performances from its talented cast and it is always a charming, entertaining and entirely fun film to watch. It can be too silly and childish at times and the pacing should have been better, but it is mostly a very well executed and directed film that is as enduring now as it was back in 1985 for many good reasons.