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BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985) (****)

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If you haven't seen this one than I don't know where you've been since 1985? The film is a fun twist on your typical time traveler story. And from what I can remember it's the first (or at least most popular) time traveling flick that deals with the paradox possibilities of changing the past -- even slightly.

Michael J. Fox's (TV's SPIN CITY) portrayal of Marty McFly made the actor a mega-star. Just think Eric Stoltz (PULP FICTION, LITTLE WOMEN) was originally cast as Marty, but they fired him only a few days into shooting. If you don't know the plot here it is -- Marty goes back in time 30 years and interferes with his parent's first meeting, which creates a ripple in time affecting his own existence. Meanwhile, he finds the creator of the time machine, his good friend, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?). To send Marty back to the future, they must perfectly time the time machine hitting a wire as a lightning strike hits a clock tower.

Marty is your typical teen with a girlfriend and a passion for music. He's a bit of an outsider, but really he's a good kid. Fox makes the character effortlessly charming. He knows how to handle bullies like Biff (Thomas F. Wilson, TURNER & HOOCH), but has a hard time seducing his mother (Lea Thompson, Lifetime's FOR THE PEOPLE) when he has to. Okay, what boy wouldn't? Crispin Glover (the new WILLARD) is perfect as Marty's father George. He's the stereotypical nerd without being a cartoon.

What else can I say about this film that you don't already know? Some things to point out that you may want to take note of the next time you watch it. The way the plot plays out at the end is extremely well paced. I've seen this film dozens of times the end is still thrilling. The last minute tension builders are a bit lumped on, but they are not totally unbelievable because they come naturally from the events on screen. Also take note to the cinematography. It's quite well done for a comedy and the sight gags that are woven in are classic. Especially take note to Marty and Biff's confrontation in the diner.

This is all due to director Robert Zemeckis (WHAT LIES BENEATH), who was working at his best on this film. He now tends to pander to the overly sentimental like in CAST AWAY, CONTACT and even in the Oscar-winner FORREST GUMP. But in FUTURE he was having fun. And for all intents and purposes, that's what this film is supposed to be -- fun. It turns out to be a lot of fun.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks