best films: #67: BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)

Though it’s been spoofed, quoted, homaged, and referenced to probably a nauseating extent in the years since, Back to the Future is a quintessential ’80s popcorn flick for a variety of reasons.  For starters, you can’t quite find a charmer just like Michael J. Fox – though he has his detractors out there, he’s a spritely, sassy teen with just the right amounts of too-cool and sweet-natured in this flick.  And though he chews every bit of scenery there is, Christopher Lloyd is of course fast becoming an iconic image of ’80s nostalgia thanks to his insane Einstein hair, gawky-eyed stares, and “1.21 jigowatts!” hammed up exclamations.  But thanks to some excellent adventure direction from Robert Zemeckis and a killer score that other fantasy movies tend to envy by Alan Silvestri, Back to the Future is more than just a trifle – it really is an experience.  Where it truly seems to succeed most is in its ability to create memorable imagery.  From the time-traveling Delorean to the handmade “Moonlight Under the Sea” dance posters to the aural imagery of Huey Lewis belting out “Power of Love,” this movie becomes something of a cultural experience.  One that, it seems, is impossible to recreate with modern cinema.  With wham-bang effects and more cynical audiences, movies with the same heart and chutzpah as Back to the Future, The Goonies, and Adventures in Babysitting (a.k.a. movies that somehow get away with putting teens and children in mortal danger and making it downright hilarious) are virtually impossible to pull off.  But at least we have the magic of DVD to let us take a trip back whenever we feel like it.


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