A pretty solid holiday weekend, all things considered. We had good weather; it did not rain for two days, which has been unusual over the past month, nor was it blazingly hot. We had our traditional family gathering at the LVS. Not as many people as the past few years but still a decent-sized crowd. The only downer was the air conditioner deciding not to work when we were crowding 14 people into a small area to eat dinner. Fortunately it was not too uncomfortably hot and then the AC decided to kick back on the next morning.

The highlight of the weekend for me, though, actually came Monday afternoon. Thursday I read that the weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the release of Back To The Future. On our trip to the library, I snatched up the DVD with plans to watch it with the girls over the weekend. We never got around to it at the LVS, but Monday afternoon we sat down together so the girls could learn all about Marty McFly and friends.

They loved it, and I was reminded what a great movie it is.

I don’t think I had watched it since 1990 or ’91. But I likely watched it a few dozen times between 1986 and then.[1] I was gambling a little that everything would be ok for my girls to watch. Other than the scenes where Biff attempts to force himself on Lorraine and a few assorted mild curse words, there wasn’t anything the girls haven’t seen on your average, terrible Nickelodeon teen show.

I tried not to explain too much to them as the movie progressed. I threw in a few cultural/historic tidbits in certain scenes, but tried to let them figure things out on their own as much as possible. Besides, where my generation had some basic understanding of what life was like in the 1950s thanks to Happy Days, The Hardy Boys, and Grease, I’m reasonably sure kids today are working with nearly zero knowledge of that era. It was a long freaking time ago! It’s a tough task to explain too much without stopping the movie every two minutes to talk through why the guy who runs the soda shop thinks it’s so ridiculous that Goldie Wilson wants to be mayor someday, why Marty tries to order a Tab and Pepsi Free, and why the music he plays at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance seems so outrageous.

I think they got it, though. They laughed at all the right parts, loved Marty evading Biff and his cronies on his improvised skateboard, and cringed at any romantic scenes. Best of all, when I asked “So why was Marty’s family so different when he came back to 1985?” they all quickly answered some variation of “Because he changed history!”[2]

L. had the observation of the day, though. When Marty returns to the mall parking lot and watches the Libyans try to kill Doc, she said, “Hey, that sign says ‘Lone Pine’!” After I explained to her sisters what she was talking about, they were pretty impressed. As was I. I honestly don’t remember if I ever noticed the change in the mall’s name from beginning of the movie to the end. But it has been 24–25 years since I watched it, too.

I have to say I really enjoyed the movie as well. I kind of forgot how fantastic a flick it is. Family-friendly (mostly). Great story and writing. Fine mix of humor, drama, romance, and action. Terrific performances from the entire cast. And a hell of a last 20 minutes.

Re-watching after all these years, I was especially struck by how good Christopher Lloyd was. Doc is just a great character, and it’s all because of Lloyd’s particular brand of physical madness. And I really love the way he plays the moments after Marty returns and he rises to reveal he had indeed kept and read the letter Marty left for him. There’s a very subtle tenderness in those moments that is just wonderful.

So the girls loved the movie and the moment the credits rolled, yelled how they want to watch parts two and three. Looks like I’ve already got my parenting win for the week in the books!

Like a lot of movies of my youth, I didn’t see it until a year after it was released in theaters. I’m 95% certain it was the first movie we ever rented after we bought our first VCR.  ↩

Teen Beach Movie 2 may have helped them here, since time travel changed history in it as well. And they’ve watched that movie like 95 times in the last couple weeks.  ↩