If you're going to make a car into a time machine, do it with style. And always pack spare stolen plutonium.
GOTTA GET BACK IN TIME to write up full second thoughts!
There have been a lot of things to analyze in the movies so far. Not this time. I don't know if it's a positive or a negative that Back to the Future delivers the whole plot on a tray before it's 15 minutes in, but either way there weren't going to be any surprises. I came into the movie knowing practically nothing and I could still say "he's going back in time, to the dance, he's going to change history, run into his parents, it'll be 30 years ago, the night of the clock tower" and so on.
No surprises, therefore (until he started disappearing anyway, and some of how the ending plays out) but a lot of good fun. The lead, Marty, is charismatic and likeable when put into an awkward situation; there's a lot of good-natured, stress-free action backed by a theme that sounds more appropriate for blasting off into outer space than outskateboarding a truck full of bullies; and the humor is vastly inappropriate in a way that isn't crude but just so so so AWKWARD. Just about everything in the movie put a smile on my face, from George's swaggering "GIMME A MILK" to Doc Brown's mad wacky crazy eyes to Lorraine being a closet rebel with a hugely imappropriate cause.
This will never be a great movie. It's too broad and puts all the pieces in place so far before the story that the actual plot isn't the carrier. Instead it was just me knowing what could come of what was laid out and clutching my side in pain and laughter as it all played out. So there's no criticism here, it just kind of starts slow and is mainly a comedy. I liked it a lot. The characters are mostly used well - I understand why Jennifer gets left behind, even though it's a bit unfortunate, but the one surprise to me was the principal. He knew both McFly boys, I was sure he'd have a larger role to play in being a pain. I also thought, when we were introduced to Lorraine's family, that they might kick around a bit more, but I'm glad they didn't. The story didn't need them, didn't need George's family, it worked with who was there.
There are undoubtedly a lot of references that just swooped right over my head. I'd love to be familiar enough to go back and see them and get an even bigger (and hopefully by that time less painful) chuckle. I did figure that they would show the parents as flawed and human - George actually misses the mark here, he's such a noodle and WHAT IS WITH THAT HAIR - but I think it's awesome that Lorraine's actually a driving force in the film. She's the troublemaker par excellence - she's looking for a bad boy, opportunities to rebel, a bit of intrigue, and she actually chases them. Which is horrifying in context but hilarious. :D
I've got to ask, though - what do the changes in the past mean for Marty's present? He would have been raised differently by a more confident father and a mother who doesn't feel like she settled. Did that change his personality, or did being in the past keep him in a bubble? He certainly didn't realize his family would be like that. Also, does George still believe that Darth Vader commanded him into the rest of his life? That would be sad, hilarious and completely in character - behind that slick exterior I'm betting the man's still some form of pasta.
Anyway, that's it for Back to the Future, until I'm persuaded to look at the sequels. In the meantime, looking ahead to more Star Trek and then Conan the Barbarian, all I can say is: where we're going, we don't need roads! BRRRZRRRRM!!!