One of my favorite movies, no doubt about it, and easily one of the cornerstones in any conversation about films from the eighties. Watching it is like watching Happy Days, if you’re a Baby Boomer. Like going back in time, one might say.
But I was watching it with my daughters the other day, and I have to say, they had a pretty nice time ripping it apart. These are veteran Doctor Who fans, so they take their time travel pretty seriously, and old Marty McFly and the Professor just weren’t cutting it, I’m sad to say.
In the non-time travel category, they were not very impressed with the Professor. Said one daughter, “His robot dog food can opener looks like it takes up a lot of energy and space, and must have cost what? Six thousand dollars back then? And it saves him all of ten seconds a day. Our giant three gallon upside down dog food bin refills itself without using any energy at all, and it doesn’t refill itself if the dog doesn’t eat the food, and it’s dry dog food, so it’s not gross.”
Yes. Well, the professor is an eccentric one, you know? That’s why he built a twelve-foot speaker, gave a guitar-playing teenager access to the key, and then forgot to hang a sign on it saying don’t use this. And that’s also why a man so absent-minded feels free to test his time machine by driving it straight at himself and said teenager, in the parking lot of a mall at one-thirty in the morning – the eighties were a wild time, I tell them.
In addition, although the girls were in full agreement that a scientist on the verge of time travel might not have been afraid of Libyan terrorists since he was about to escape into the future, it sure seemed questionable that he would involve his teenage pal, with no apparent contingency plan in case they find him (which they did, he didn’t know how, but they found him.)
“Run for it, Marty!”
I mean, that’s it, that’s the plan? You brought a kid into a serious beef with international terrorists and you figure, RUN!?
Not, quick, get in the time machine?
Then there is a real debate about the absence of a second hand on the clock tower. I mean, said one daughter, it sure was a stroke of luck that the lightning happened to strike at the exact instant the minute hand moved, otherwise they’d have NO idea where in that minute they needed to hit the cable at 88 mph.
Good thing that pine tree farmer didn’t bring his gun out the first time, like he almost certainly would have in 1955, another daughter observed. That’d be a pretty short movie.
Well, sure. But he didn’t so let’s move on.
Then a big discussion about what happens when you get erased from existence. The general consensus seems to be that you don’t disappear from photographs one limb at a time, as the movie suggests, but rather that you’d stop existing, and then so would your wisecracking, time-traveling kid. And also, no one would have taken the picture if those three didn’t exist to pose for it – the picture itself would stop existing.
That really bothered them – it sure looked at the end like Marty and his siblings were going to stop existing, but someone still bothered to take a photograph of nobody standing in front of the well.
And then if you managed to reunite your parents such that they were on track to get married and have kids again, well wouldn’t they end up doing everything differently now that McFly was a hardass instead of a dork?
And that includes the sexual intercourse which led to the kids. And unless we’re all mistaken, different sperm carry different sets of genes, and therefore any change at all to when and where the parents had sexual intercourse would result in a different sperm reaching the same – or possibly a different – egg, and that would of course result in a different child.
You gotta think that the newly confident George McFly went about sexual intercourse in a markedly different way than the old, nerdy George McFly, right? I mean, right?
So Marty not only would have stopped existing, but if the professor managed to get his parents back on track in the same manner Marty did, he wouldn’t be re-creating the same kids. He’d be creating new, previously uncreated siblings.
Also, if Marty turned his dad into a confident, literary go-getter, why’d it take thirty years to get his first novel out, even though it appeared inspired by Marty in his radiation suit?
And if Marty’s sister and brother were so cool and rocking now that he changed the past, why’d they still live at home? They had to both be in their twenties.
Also, the girls were relieved to know that once a vanload of armed Libyan terrorist crashes into a Fotomat a few hundred yards away, they are all disabled and you can pretty much forget about them.
You mean, the sexual assault in the school parking lot. If it hadn’t been for Biff and the way he sexually assaulted you in the school parking lot, you guys never would have fallen in love.
Is that grounds for keeping a guy like that hanging around the house with your teenage kids, washing cars and whatnot?
Way to yank the fun out of the movie, girls. Now you’re all locked into the sequels so get comfy.