Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to the Future...again!

I just watched the Back to the Future Trilogy on the 25th anniversary blu-ray release, and I hadn't cracked up that much in a long, long time.

I was seven years old when the movie came out in theaters in 1985, and there are so many reasons why watching the whole triology again was so much fun.

First of all, it's just such a great film series to watch. It's just as much fun today as the first day I saw it (and then proceeded to watch again and again and again). The acting is just fabulous. The story is really character driven. Even though it's got time travel and some cool effects, it's really about the character Marty, Doc Brown, and the whole gang. The actors really make the characters come to life, but also take it a step further so that they're almost caricatures but at the same time grounded, realistic, and believable. Marty is just that typical teenage kid that any American adolescent can connect with, so you just can't help but join him on his wild and crazy adventures. Doc Brown is totally that fun crazy scientist that every kid wishes was their uncle. Biff and all his incarnations is that burly and perfectly stupid bully that everyone just loves to hate. Then there's Marty's parents, so very Mom and Dad yet so vulnerable and human at the same time. The soundtrack is just so epic and perfect. I think putting this big-sound, epic-fantasy music mixed with 80's hip style really made it feel like an adventure in your own backyard.

Next, it's just so awesome to see the 80s again. This film really captures the sensibilities of it's time, and I guess having been released in 1985, right in the smack middle of the 80s, really made it a marker, a touchstone of the times. I was in elementary school throughout the 80s, so I really felt just like a kid again watching it. The experience seeing it at 32 was oh-so-nostalgic of 3rd grade. I grew up with the generation of kids that sat in front of their tubes (not YouTube) watching G.I. Joe, Smurfs, Transformers, Rainbow Brite, and My Little Pony. Sure, it's fun to have seen Transformers and G.I. Joe in live action movies today (and I'm a little terrified of the Smurfs film coming up), especially when you go back to those cartoons today and think "Wow, I had low standards back then", but it's such a trip that a movie like Back To The Future is just as great to watch now as it was then. In fact, having become a writer and gotten to know the process of film making and how impossible it is to pull off a great film, I feel like I appreciate it so much more today as a masterpiece of entertainment and story-telling.

Finally, the time-travel experience is absolutely perfected for me personally by the fact that this film was shot all in Los Angeles County. I grew up during the 80's in Whittier, CA, and the external high school scenes were shot at Whittier High School. Also, the mall parking lot where Marty blasts off into the past in the suped-up DeLorean was shot at the Puente Hills Mall, my neighborhood mall in my pre-teen and teen years. Seeing the footage of the mall when Robinsons and JCPenny were still there really took me back. And I noticed the Fudruckers that had turned into a Barnes and Nobles and marveled at the fact that that same Ross store is still there! The parking lot looked almost exactly the way it looks today. 25th anniversary indeed!

It's also worth noting that in Back to the Future II, Marty, Jennifer, and Doc Brown travel 30 years into the 2015. It just turned 2011. That's four years from now! OMG, I cracked up so much at what they had designed the future to look like. Flying cars? Household fusion reactors? Not after 9-11 girls and boys! I can see how it was tough to predict that the biggest change would be in computers and satellite technology and that we'd be able to access the entire developed world in the palm of our hands. But yeah, I remember when I was a kid, my parents said that by the time I drove, we'd have flying cars. Better attach those hover engines to my Honda Odyssey tomorrow.

After watching this trilogy again, I started to see some of the influence it had on my own story writing style. Kyle's kind of like Marty, pulled into a crazy adventure that changes him completely forever. Ah-gong is a little like his Doc Brown, though he's not as all over the story. I wasn't thinking of these films at all when I wrote the story, but I think the way I handled Kyle as a character does have some of Marty's reactiveness in him. Thank you Michael J. Fox. ^_^

One of my greatest childhood disappointments was finding out that the hover boards didn't really exist. I really, really, really wanted one, and I when I saw the footage of the wire-work that went into creating the hover board scenes, I felt so depressed. I wanted so very much for them to be real! Gotta hand it to the special effects at the time for making me dream.

I'm so grateful to the people who put these films together and made them possible. It's such a treasure trove of good feelings, good laughs, and good times. To everyone who had a hand in making the Back to the Future films, thanks guys for all the sleepless nights and hard work! Totally enjoyed the ride!

Check out Michael J. Fox's foundation for Parkinson's disease!

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