Fred and Yasser’s Film Club: Week Ten, Part Two – The ‘Back to the Future’ Trilogy (1985-90)

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The Premise
Film fanatics and friends
Fred Sullivan and Yasser Akram are on a mission to watch 25 of one another’s favourite movies. Each week they will watch one movie each and then get together to discuss what they have seen. There has been only one ’10’ so far and the lads have just had their first proper disagreement over Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Wild Strawberries‘. Are they all friends again this week?

The power of love is a curious thing, but will ‘Back to the Future’ make one man weep and another man sing? Read on to find out…

You can read the entires from previous week by checking out the archives on the left of the screen.

To have a look at what Fred has picked so far, click here.

Likewise, for Yasser’s choices, click here.

Fred: Okay, Yasser. You really didn’t like my last choice, but I’m hoping to be on safer ground this week with the ‘Back to the Future‘ trilogy.

Yasser: Exciting times!

FS: Were you surprised to see these films on my list?

YA: I was slightly taken aback, yeah. Out of the list it’s the odd-one-out as it’s CGI-heavy. Looking at both our lists, it seems like a mistake, like it belongs on mine.

The ‘Back to the Future’ Trilogy
1985/1989/1990 – USA
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Mary Steenburgen

FS: It’s a brilliant idea, I think, far and away the stand out of the mid-80s craze for teen movies. It could have ended up as another ‘Weird Science‘ but it had something special about it.

YA: An intelligence

FS: Yes, all important to me as you know. What did you think of the original?

YA: I thought it was very clever, yet very coincidental at the same time.

FS: How so?

YA: I understand that movies need certain coincidences to take place in order for the protagonist to win – the lightning being the same energy as the plutonium, knowing exactly where and when the lightning struck

FS: That’s the beauty of it though. The films are absolutely tight on that sort of thing. Part of the reason I love them is that nothing – no line, no scene – isn’t integral to the plot. It all knits together

YA: It’s really hard to pick this movie apart. Other than the incestuous kiss, everything is really good.

FS: I get the feeling I’m going to come out of this looking like a massive pervert. ‘Chinatown‘ – incest and rape; ‘Touch of Evil‘ – rape; ‘Back to the Future’ – comedy incest…

YA: (laughs)

FS: There is more rape to come on my list, if you are interested

YA: …ummm

FS: (laughs) Anyway…

YA: Yes. Marty (Michael J. Fox) sees the faults in his parents and inspires them to be better people

FS: They are awful to begin with, but the movie has that current of ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’. Stand up for yourself and believe in your dreams.

FS: Marty needs to bring his parents together and it’s a really tense ending! Would you agree it’s a tense film, and a funny one?

YA: Yeah, the whole thing from the start is. I love Michael J. Fox. You can see that he really doesn’t belong in his family at the beginning. He’s a dreamer, but he hates how he questions his own abilities as it reminds him of how his father is. He’s also got an unlikely best friend in Doc Brown. Enter Christopher Lloyd in arguably his best role

FS: Not even arguably (laughs)

YA: I liked Uncle Fester!

FS: Yeah but… come on… DOC BROWN! Much as I love Fox and Thomas F. Wilson, Lloyd is the best in all three.

YA: I agree, Marty following closely.

FS: (laughs) Yep. It’s so nice to agree!

YA: Doc panics when Marty stays cool and vice versa.

FS: It’s what makes them a such a good double act

YA: It sets them apart from Bill and Ted

FS: Let’s not blaspheme!

YA: (laughs)

FS: I think the original movie is the strongest. Do you think it would have been better if they had left it as a single movie?

YA: No. No. No. Really no. I think Part II compliments the first one as it realises all the things Doc feared, but makes him go against those principles for his friend.

FS: I remember when Parts II and III were originally released, III was seen as being nearly as good as the original, whereas II was seen as a let down – a bridge between the other two that, in itself, was too confusing. However, I think now that Part II has the better reputation and Part III is seen as the weak link.

YA: I think Part II was really well made, the cleverest of all of them.

FS: In many ways it has to be. Again – it’s really exciting. I love the scene where Marty’s on the hoverboard trying to get the almanac from Biff’s car. My heart’s always in my mouth

YA: Yeah, he crashes into the manure again. Is it four times that happens?

FS: A big part of the trilogy’s charm is how it refers back to itself, though. There is always the ‘diner’ scene when Marty first goes back, a chase across the town square, spotting the little clever things that make you go ‘ahhhh that’s because of…’

YA: I know. It’s clever little things, the synergy of everything

FS: Do you think Part II tried to do too much?

YA: No. I think it was cleverly put together, especially when they had to go back to the night of the lightning storm again and saw their endeavours from the first film panning out.

FS: On to Part III. Does it let the side down? Or is it more true the original that Part II?

YA: It’s clearly the weakest of the three. At times it felt like they were saying ‘Ah fuck it. Let’s make it more ridiculous’

FS: I think that when people first saw them with gaps in between, Part III seemed like the better film. Nowadays people will watch all three back-to-back on DVD or whatever and Part II feels like it flows from the original and then suddenly we are in the Wild West.

YA: It’s not the Wild West I minded so much. It’s the fact it’s so repetitive of the first two movies. for instance he’s not Calvin Klein, he’s Clint Eastwood.

FS: When I first saw Part III, I liked it the best. Now I see it as on a par with Part II but not as good as the original. As a whole, I can’t think of a series of films that have given me as much pleasure as these have.

YA: I don’t think the addition of Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen) did the series any favours

FS: I find Steenburgen quite irritating but they needed a reason for Doc to stay in the past.

YA: I don’t think the subplot was needed.

FS: The Doc said that after he destroyed the time machine he was going to explore the other great mystery of the universe… WOMEN!

YA: Tell me more about what made you pick it.

FS: This is my most ‘Yasser’-ish choice for a couple of reasons. It’s more typical of the films on your list, but also it brings back a lot of fond memories for me of being at university. I have a couple of friends and the three of us used to watch this all the time. We knew the dialogue backwards and we used to love it when we spotted some clever little plot point that no-one else had spotted. I loved the films anyway, but since then it’s always been right up amongst my favourites.

YA: Any other questions before I sum up?

FS: Just if there was anything you didn’t like…

YA: The repetitiveness did get slightly annoying by the end of the third movie, but that was because I watched them back-to-back. It’s very hard to pick faults with them. What is a shame is that they said in 2015 we’d have flying cars…

FS: There’s still time!

YA: (laughs)

FS: Okay – time to sum it all up and rate it please

YA: As a trilogy ‘Back to the Future’ is very well done. It sparks the imagination, challenges you to think about the possibility of altering the past and the ramifications of that. It does it in such a fun way, though, that it’s quite easy for a child to follow easily as well as an adult. I love the first one, but more so when Part II intertwines with it. Part II is darker but Part III fails to deliver the same punch as the first two, much like the third film in many trilogies. Individually, you would be looking at 10 for Part I, a high 9 for Part II and a solid 8 for Part III. However, putting them together as one full story it has to be10/10.

FS: Get in!

YA: Like it did for you, it captured my imagination and brought back memories of times of joy, fun and laughter.

FS: A 10 at last. It only took ten weeks!

Next week: Zoot alors! We are back in France with ‘Amelie’ and on the con with ‘The Sting’


7 thoughts on “Fred and Yasser’s Film Club: Week Ten, Part Two – The ‘Back to the Future’ Trilogy (1985-90)

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