review for Back to the Future on AllMovie

Back to the Future (1985)
by Matthew Doberman review

Back to the Future is Robert Zemeckis/Steven Spielberg storytelling at its best, with humor, action, special effects and a Huey Lewis soundtrack rolled together in a package that proves "Fun" and "PG" are not antonyms. Michael J. Fox, then known mostly for his role on TV's Family Ties, is a teenage everyman who fulfills the dream of escaping his go-nowhere home life and dorky parents, only to find them transformed by his own hand. Supporting him is Christopher Lloyd, let loose to do what he does best -- act like a complete nut -- in the role of mad scientist Doc Brown. The film makes the most of the notion that Fox's Marty McFly can change the future, and successfully pays off on an astounding number of plot angles. Marty not only assures his own continued existence but changes the makeup of his family and community by helping his dad grow a backbone or (if you're watching carefully) altering the name of the local mall. More than just a series of anachronisms, Back to the Future has a real heart. You suffer along with Marty's teenaged dad, George, at the depredations of his tormentor, Biff, and get a genuine surge of adrenaline and pride when George finally takes his stand. Could this event lead to a changed life? In Back to the Future it does, believably. In fact, the film has more in common with the sentimental fantasy of It's a Wonderful Life than with the often-mindless action of the science fiction pictures that followed, proving that bigger budgets and more elaborate special effects didn't exactly lead to a higher-quality summer blockbuster.