This week on the podcast, it was all about Back to the Future. There were proposed sequels, even if Ryan’s did remind me of that Chrononauts thing Jimmy suggested I read. Well worth the 8 bucks I paid for it, too.
There was the world’s worst geek trivia.
There were future predictions.
But all this talk over Back to the Future has me wondering…is it really a classic?
To put it bluntly…yes. Put down the pitchforks.
But really, what makes something a classic? That’s a good question to consider.
As a rule, I am reluctant to name things from my own lifetime as “classics”. There are exceptions. Besides Back to the Future, there’s the Christmas classic Die Hard, the original Star Wars trilogy, Ghostbusters, and a few others.
These movies generally have stood the test of time, and have certain timeless qualities. Yes, we could point to Luke Skywalker’s gently feathered hair as a relic of past things, but little about that movie marks it as a product of the late 70s beyond the general look of some of the actors.
But that’s not enough.
What makes Gone With The Wind a classic, for example?
Well, for one thing, that movie is still picking up fans decades after its original release. That’s important. Many movies can have fans from the time it comes out, but if the only fans that this particular film has are those original fans, the movie will be quickly forgotten.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time you ran into a Billy Jack fan? And that movie was successful enough to spawn some sequels.
As far as Back to the Future goes, the movie does have a timeless quality. Though much of the surface humor deals with Marty being confused by differences between 1985 and 1955, the real point is he sees his parents acting like the teenagers they were and not the middle-aged defeatists they are in his own personal experience. He’s shocked to find his mother smoke, drink, and jump him. He’s surprised his dad is a peeping tom. The confusion between himself and Doc Brown over differences between past and future are more along those lines. You don’t need to be a child of the 80s to get all the jokes, any more than you need to be a child of the 50s. It’s a fun movie with good pacing that allows you to simply enjoy things and have a fun two hours or so.
Now the sequels? No, we probably could have done without those. Oh well.