Out of Time (Back To The Future, 1985)

Back_To_The_Future_PosterSpoilers occur throughout…Marty McFly has big dreams but lacks any of the confidence to reach for them.  His high school principal is convinced every generation of the McFly family are losers. And it is not hard to see why Marty may struggle with that.  His parents are meek.  His father is pushed around by his boss Biff. Biff has George McFly writing up his reports as well as supplying him with his car. His mother is uncomfortable with the notion of a girl calling a boy. His sister and brother are unemployed layabouts.  And his uncle pretty much lives in prison, failing to get parole at the beginning of the film.

Marty’s only bright spot is his girlfriend Jennifer.  She is confident Marty should be successful, especially as a musician.  One evening, Marty is asked by his friend, eclectic inventor Doc Brown, to help him with a top secret project.  The project turns out to be a Delorean car that Doc converted to… A TIME MACHINE. After an attack from rogue Libyans (it makes sense, trust me) forces Marty to jump into the Delorean and race off, triggering the time travel.  Marty finds himself in 1955. Marty runs into his father, who turns out to be just as as weak willed as his grown up self.

But it is when he saves his father from being hit by a car that everything goes wrong. He discovers the act prevents his father and mother from starting their relationship, instead, young Loraine falls for Marty. Marty Tracks down Doc Brown for help and they set out to fix Marty’s parental relationship (discovering that he and his siblings will be erased from the timeline if his parents fail to fall in love).

As bizarre and outlandish as the plot may seem (and even creepy, what with the subplot that Marty’s mom has a crush on him), everything fits together nicely. The film establishes all the town’s important monuments in about two minutes.  Each character is quickly defined in brief dialog.  And the film presents the science of time travel in ways that seem complex, but easy to suspend disbelief for.  Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale also have a simple gimmick for communicating to the audience the severity of the situation.  Marty has a photograph of he and his siblings, each of whom fade from the photograph through the course of the movie.

Back to the Future was Michael J. Foxes first big starring feature film role.  A role that almost never happened, the film began shooting with Eric Stoltz, but after awhile, it was felt he was just not right in the role.  Up until this point Fox had been a rising television star.  But Back to the Future pushed him into the next level.

Crispin Glover brings a likable and sweet nerdiness to the role of George McFly. This is important, both for George and Marty.  While Marty is a “cooler” kid, a lot of his insecurities are mirrored in his father.  When George makes his third act turnaround, Glover does so with a great performance.  Lea Thompson is sweet, with a hint of rebellion, as Marty’s mom.  A lot of the fun for her character is the juxtaposition of the woman she is in the future and the teen she was.

As Doc Brown, Christopher Lloyd brings his signature manic style, making for an entertaining performance Thomas F. Wilson will probably be forever tied to Biff Tannen, but he is extremely memorable in the role.

While the old age makeup for all the actors certainly looks like “Old People” makeup, it is not so distracting as to damage the enjoyment of the film. A lot of the effects still hold up for the film.

The tone of the film is light, with plenty of humor. And the jokes, for the most part, have withstood the test of time. There is one gag that has not held up so well, because, looking back, it is an image issue.  The gag on it’s face is not remotely malicious, and the filmmakers probably never once had it occur to them that they were basically attributing a form of music created by black musicians to a white kid from the future.

Decades later, Back to the Future is every bit as entertaining as it was in 1985.

 

Lets Go Camping Part 4 (Friday the 13th: the Final Chapter, 1984)

friday-the-13th-part-iv--the-final-chapter-posterPart four has my all time favorite sequel subtitle. The Final Chapter. You know how many Friday the 13th movies there are? Ten. Eleven if you count the Freddy/Jason movie. And number four is the final chapter. So everything after that is apparently an addendum. Sure, other movies have had a “final” movie that was not so final. Freddy’s Dead: the Final Nightmare. The Omen 3: the Final Conflict. Children of the Corn 2: the Final Sacrifice. But I believe the Friday the 13th Series has the distinction of doing this twice. And most of those films only got one or two sequels after the “Final” sequel (the exception is Children of the Corn 2. If you think I will sit through those you are sadly mistaken. I know my limits). So I love the title.

Plus, this movie has all the things people love to see in movies. A precocious kid (Corey Feldman!), hot twins and a dog. Oh, and Crispin Glover.

Our story picks up directly after Part 3. Jason still appears to be dead. Apparently, when the two squad cars left the body of Jason unattended, they called in SWAT, the army, the Guardian Angels and paramedics. So they bring Jason to the morgue. Apparently they don’t question the appearance of death on Crystal Lake. He’s not hacking at you with a machete. Must be dead. So of course he gets up and kills the morgue attendant and his girlfriend nurse. Apparently they assume he is dead without checking as well.

We then jump to the next morning. In spite of the death toll in Crystal Lake, it appears people still feel safe living there (this marks the second film to diverge from the camp counselor theme). A single mom, her teen daughter and pre-teen son (Corey Feldman!) all live by the lake. The son is a special effects genius, which is totally not that hard to buy. After all, it’s totally plausible that a ten year old kid is making elaborate latex masks and high tech special effects, right? What else is there to do when you live next to a lake? They meet a group of kids who are staying at the house next door. Mostly more realistic teens who talk about nothing but sex and have skinny dipping parties in front of the kid (Corey Feldman!). See, the kid (Corey Feldman!) is kind of a perv. We get the point when he is in bed and looks out the window to see one of the hot girls next door remove her shirt. He does not just watch. He starts slamming his face into a pillow and laughing excitedly. And jumping on the bed. He’s a little horndog, that kid (Corey Feldman!).
Then the kid’s (Corey Feldman!) older sister meets a bounty hunter, well, we don’t know that yet. But eventually we find out he is there to kill Jason. If you have seen the first three movies, you know where that is going. He is kind of the teenage girl’s romantic interest. He appears to be about thirty one. Nothing creepy about that. As soon as it gets dark, Jason gets his kill on. The director tries new things in horror. Well, one new thing. Instead o a nubile beauty being killed in the shower, it’s a pretty boy. A young Johnny Depp type (Before we knew what a Johnny Depp Type was). Of course, the girl he showered with still dies.

It’s all pretty routine. Although there are the attempts at humor. Crispin Glover yells out for a corkscrew to open a bottle of whine and Jason plunges it through his hand. Bwahahahahaha! The bounty hunter guy gets killed in the basement. Then we are down to the Sole Survivor and her kid brother (Corey Feldman!). She is alone in the house running into dead bodies. She opens one door and there is a body laying on the porch. Apparently that dead body is booby trapped, because the Sole Survivor does not dare walk around it, she instead slams the door and runs around the house looking for a way out-eventually using a window. She runs back home and shuts the door. That will show Jason. They are safe now in the house with lots of big…windows…aw crap. Jason jumps in and chases the youngins’ up the stairs. Remember, Jason ain’t dead yet, he can still run.

The Sole Survivor keeps telling her kid brother (Corey…oh you get the point) to get out of the house. Other than that she screams a lot. It’s really weird, because it isn’t natural sounding at all. She looks left, and screams. Looks right and screams. Looks at Jason and screams. Looks at her agent and screams. Then she turns and run down the hall and leaps through a window. That’ll teach Jason. The kid is hiding in the bathroom shaving his head. That’s what kids did in those days. Jason went down stairs to check on the Sole Survivor who is, indeed, alive. But not for long, Jason starts pushing her around and is ready to kill her when the kid starts yelling for Jason. He turns around to see the kid, now really bald, looking at him on the stairs. This confuses Jason. In part two it was established that Jason can’t tell his dead mother apart from a blonde college girl if she wears mom’s sweater. Apparently, if Jason sees a bald kid, he might think it’s himself standing there. Yeah, Jason is kind of stupid.

The Sole Survivor grabs Jason’s machete and runs up from behind, swings and…knocks Jason’s hockey mask off. Yeah. Anti climactic, I know. Jason looks completely different from the third film, in spite of the fact that it is a lousy whole day and a half later. Jason reaches for her, which gives the kid the moment he needs. He grabs the machete and swings and unlike his sister actually has the ability to HIT his target. He plants the machete deep in Jason’s skull. Jason stumble and then falls face first to the ground. This allows the machete to go deeper. This insures that we see Jason is d-e-a-d. There is no way he is ever coming back. So the Sole Survivor is technically not the sole survivor. The movie ends with the two hugging in the hospital (we have a first, the last girl alive doesn’t flip out in this one, folks!). How sweet…well, until they cut to the close up of the kid with that homicidal gleam in his eye.

Oh, and whoever owns the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise, take note. Corey Feldman (!) makes it clear he wants to pull a Jamie Lee Curtis and return to the franchise for a battle to the death against Jason. Which is tough to do, since if you do the Halloween: H2O thing, you ignore the sequels that came after your film. Which means Jason is still dead. Oh, what is that you were saying, Mr. Franchise Owner? You had no interest in doing that? Glad to hear it.

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