Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover
Have I Seen it Before: My parents like to tell a story about me—a little more than a week before my first birthday—enraptured by the movie as it played at the Admiral Twin Drive-in. That night I may have fallen asleep before the movie was over, but I assure you that I’ve more than made up for it since then.
Did I Like It: Can a movie live in your soul? Can a single film dictate a vast majority of one person’s aesthetic to the point where one becomes ever so slightly concerned that the only cogent thoughts he has ever had
Can a film be perfect?
Yes, yes it can. The film doesn’t waste a single moment in its story-telling. Every moment builds on the developments that precede it. The time travel logic is unassailable, and that’s not something I can say for many time travel movies, including some of the sequels that follow this movie.
Look, if you came here looking for some kind of sober, level-headed admission of flaw in the film, then there’s the door.
But I could spend some time talking about some of the great parts of the film that don’t get enough credit. Lea Thompson might appear to be relegated to a basic ingénue role, but in reality she is the film’s secret weapon. I challenge you to name an actress who could on a dime turn from defeated, alcoholic housewife, to randy teenager, and still somehow stay maternal the whole time. You might come up with a Meryl Streep out there in the world who could make those changes with the same skill, but I guarantee there has never been and never will be a performer who could take all of those qualities, play a number of scenes where she unknowingly lusts after her son, and not make the film a pitch-black dark comedy in the process. Hell, she made large swaths of Howard the Duck (1986) watchable. That she is not one of the most heralded screen presences of all time is beyond me. Maybe she had enough sense to not want that kind of scrutiny. Maybe Lea Thompson is just too good for the movies.
But even all that seems superfluous when we’re talking about a prime candidate for my personal canon of greatest films of all time. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t understand what you have been doing with your time. If you have seen it and aren’t as enamored of it as the preceding words would insist, I don’t know what to do with you. You should go rewatch it and do it correctly this time. If you are as in love with this movie as I am, you should still rewatch it. There are few things in life which are more enjoyable.