You’re not ready for this feature on the cultural impact of Back To The Future but your kids are going to love it.
Pained puns aside it’s easy to forget what a seminal piece of pop culture Robert Zemeckis’ Back To The Future trilogy was.
On first viewing it would be easy to dismiss the travails of Marty McFly and Doc Brown as they travel between 1955, 1985 and 2015 as little more than light entertainment, albeit light entertainment of the impressive kind.
It would also be wrong as Back To The Future, in all its guises, is the kind of intelligently funny movie making that is so rare these days that it’s practically an endangered species.
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Future Day is here! Marty and Doc are due anytime…
Look at the blockbuster landscape of 1985, when the first film was released, we were hot on the heels of Ghostbusters, Gremlins and The Goonies. Compare that to today’s roster – identikit Marvel movies, Michael Bay’s Transformers and Adam Sandler in Pixels, a lazy and cynical attempt to cash in on 80s nostalgia by throwing in a few pop culture references with excruciatingly unfunny lowest common denominator humour.
But where Back To The Future really excels is just how prescient it was. Look at the number of ways it was on the money about the future it parodied, which just happens to be the world of today.
In the winter of 1989 when Back To The Future Part II was released here, how we laughed at the outlandish depiction of the world of tomorrow. But with flatscreen televisions, connected to the internet, being the norm in most homes, how outlandish does it seem now?
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The more things change… the more they stay the same
It’s a film that never really gets mentioned in high brow discussions about future dystopias. Blade Runner seems to be the critics’ darling when it comes to that.
But Blade Runner still looks like it takes place in a hellish alternate universe whereas Robert Zemickis’ film presents a future with an everyday functionality to it.
Just look at how Nike trainers are still omnipresent on our streets, or how you can pay for your car fuel now without going into the garage at all.
Going a bit deeper, Zemeckis was on the money about the prevalence of drones but unlike his film, in which they are used to walk dogs, they are used by armies to bomb enemies. Turns out the reality is scarier after all.
If you’re watching Back To The Future Part II today to see how the future looked to the sons and daughters of the 1980s, you’re in for a treat that works on more levels than it may first appear to.
But Marty, the Doc was wrong, it turns out you did need roads where you were going after all.
Happy Future Day, folks… it’s closer than you think.