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Revisiting A Classic: 13 Moments From ‘Back To The Future’ That Still Get A Reaction
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Back To the FutureIn honor of the 25th anniversary of the release of Back To The Future, which arrives for the first time on Blu-ray tomorrow, and the date when the events of the movie begin (October 25), Universal re-released the film on Saturday and today in select theaters across the country. I went to a packed Saturday morning showing, and oh does this film totally hold up over time.

I’ve seen Back To The Future countless times on DVD (and VHS!) and there are certain scenes and quotes that alway make me laugh and several moments that give me chills or make me want to cheer. That’s why going to see the movie in a theater filled with fellow fans is such a great experience — there’s an entire theater of people to laugh and clap along with.

For instance, at a re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas the audience sang along to all the tunes, while at a midnight showing of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan everyone held their fist up and yelled “Khaaaannnn!!!” along with Kirk.

At the Back To The Future showing I attended, the audience was a lively bunch. They cheered when the title treatment came up, and at the first appearances of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, and of course, when the end credits rolled. But there were so many more moments that got a reaction from the crowd, even after all these years.

Here Are 13 Moments From ‘Back To The Future’ That Still Get A Reaction.

— Marty Vs. The Amp —

Marty goes to visit Doc before school, but when he finds the place empty, he decides to play a little guitar. We see Marty’s hands turning up the knobs on several pieces of equipment.

When the camera finally shows Marty he’s standing in front of a massive amplifier with a guitar strapped on to him. A guitar pick glistens in his hand as he’s about to take the first strum. When he does, it’s so loud that the force blows him backwards into a bookcase, and books come crashing down on him. “Whoa,” he says, as he arises from the rubble. “Rock ‘n’ roll.”

— The Power Of Love —

I lived through the 1980s and I remember them well, which is why I know that if it wasn’t for Back To The Future, I doubt anyone today would have any fondness for Huey Lewis or his music.

But I’ll be damned if I don’t sing along whenever I hear “The Power Of Love.” When Marty leaves Doc’s house, racing on his skateboard to get to school in time, the song kicks in and plays the entire time as Marty hitches rides on the backs of cars all the way to school. It also plays a little later when Marty kisses his girlfriend Jennifer goodbye.

— The Story Of How George and Lorraine Fell In Love —

As the McFly family sits around the dinner table, Marty’s mom Lorraine (Lea Thompson) retells the story of how she and her husband George met and fell in love.

They met when her father accidentally hit George with his car, then they had their first date at the school’s Enchantment Under The Sea dance. “It was then that I realized I was going to spend the rest of my life with him,” she reminisces, as George laughs goofily at an episode of The Honeymooners playing in the background. That’s when the camera pans back to Lorraine looking quite discouraged about her situation.

— Some Serious Shit —

Doc asks Marty to come meet him at 1:15am at the Twin Pines Mall, and it’s there that Doc explains that he’s found a way to time-travel and unveils to Marty his time machine created from a DeLorean.

Understandably, Marty finds all this hard to believe, but then Doc straps his dog Einstein into the vehicle, planning to send him back in time. “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re gonna see some serious shit,” says Doc, just before he successfully sends Einstein one minute into the future, making the canine the world’s first time traveler.

— Where Are My Pants? —

Okay, so the serious shit occurs and then shit gets real when Marty inadvertently travels back in time in the DeLorean to November 5, 1955 to the time when his parents fell in the love. The problem is, his arrival has altered history. Instead of hitting George with his car, Lorraine’s father hits Marty.

When he wakes up from the accident, Marty finds himself sans pants in Lorraine’s bed and his future mom completely infatuated with him. The entire scene is one of the best parts of the film, as Marty is dumbfounded and freaked out not only to be in the presence of the teenage version of his mother, but also that she keeps coming on to him! Awkward! When he realizes his pants are gone, he asks Lorraine where they are. “Over there,” Lorraine points suggestively, “on my Hope Chest.” Whoa, Mom!!! After fending off a few of her advances, one of which causes him to fall off the bed, Lorraine’s mom calls up to them. That’s when Lorraine throws the pants to Marty telling him to put them back on. The scene ends as Lorraine leaves the room and Marty falls forward while trying to quickly get his pants back on.

Yeah, pretty creepy. You think that’s bad? Wait until Marty takes Lorraine to the school dance!

— Gigawatts —

After evading his mom’s advances, Marty seeks out Doc Brown for help him to get him back to 1985. It’s here we meet the Doc Brown of 1955 on the day he came up with the idea for the Flux Capacitor, which makes time travel possible. Of course, he thinks Marty is crazy at first and scoffs at the idea that the actor Ronald Reagan is a U.S. President in the future.

Eventually, Marty manages to convince the eccentric Doc that he’s actually from 1985 and plays the videotape he made on the night he went back in time of Doc explaining how the time machine works. On the tape, Doc says that it takes 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to operate the time-traveling DeLorean. When the Doc of 1955 hears this, he freaks out, screaming “1.21 gigawatts!? 1.21 gigawatts!?” and runs off with Marty following him, yelling back “What the hell is a gigawatt?” Michael J. Fox’s delivery on that last question always gets a laugh, especially since both Marty and Doc are pronouncing the word incorrectly as “jigawatts” which makes you think, yeah, what the hell is a jigawatt?

— Alien Visitation —

Marty has to get his parents to fall in love, or else he’ll cease to exist. Marty and Doc brainstorm to figure out how to get Marty’s parents together. Doc sees a banner for the school’s Enchantment Under The Sea dance and tells Marty there’s a “rhythmic ceremonial ritual” coming up (this always gets a big laugh). Marty remembers that it’s at the dance that his parents first kissed, so he has to get George to ask Lorraine to it.

Unfortunately, George doesn’t have the courage to ask Lorraine out and says that there’s no one “on this planet” that can force him to do it. With that declaration, Marty gets the idea to don a radiation suit complete with helmet and visit George in the middle of the night under the guise of an alien from outer space. He puts his walkman headphones on George’s ears and blast a tape labeled “Edward Van Halen” that has rock guitar solos on it. “I am Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan,” Marty exclaims while holding up a gloved hand in the Vulcan salute. The scene ends there, but we’re meant to know that Marty then tells George that he must ask Lorraine out. (This is confirmed the next day when George tells Marty what happened.)

— SHIT!!!!! —

Marty’s ‘outer space alien’ trick motivates George to go ask out Lorraine, who’s sitting with her friends in Lou’s Cafe, but just as George is about to ask her the actual question, the school bully Biff Tannen arrives and threatens him. Marty trips Biff to stop him, which redirects Biff’s anger to Marty.

Marty flees from the malt shop into the town square where he grabs a go-cart from a little boy and turns it into a skateboard to get away from Biff and his friends, who are in pursuit of him by car. When Alan Silvestri’s triumphant score kicks it, the chase gets really good as Marty has to do some difficult tricks to get away. In the end, Marty hops off the board, runs across Biff’s car, and lands back on the skateboard safely just before Biff is about to crash. “SHIT!!!!” Biff screams just before he crashes into… a manure truck, the contents of which come down on his head and fill up his convertible. Yeah, pretty gross, but one of the most memorable sequences of the film, one that makes you laugh and cheer.

— Like Kissing My Brother —

Since George never got to actually ask Lorraine to the dance, Marty comes up with a different idea to get his parents together. Marty will take Lorraine to the dance, and then try to take advantage of her. Since Marty thinks his mother was puritanical young girl (based on what she’s always told him about how she was a good girl when she was a teenager), he figures she’ll fight him off, and that’s when George will come to her rescue. The problem is, when Marty is alone with Lorraine in his car outside the dance, he’s finding it hard to hit on his own mother.

It’s during this scene we learn the truth about the young Lorraine Baines — she drinks, she smokes, and she’s “parked” before. Lorraine has no problem making the first move with Marty, who couldn’t be more freaked out about the whole situation, and even though he can’t go through with his plan, Lorraine leans in aggressively for a smooch. In a scene I’m convinced would never be filmed in this day and age, Lorraine plants one right on Marty’s lips, but is quickly repulsed. As she pulls away, a bit shaken, she tells Marty that kissing him feels like she’s kissing her brother. An awkward as hell scene, but we all get the joke.

— George McFly, Hero —

After Lorraine and Marty kiss, they hear someone approaching the car. Marty assumes it’s George coming to the rescue as planned, but it’s actually Biff. Biff grabs Marty out of the car and his friends carry Marty off, locking him in the trunk of a car. Meanwhile, Biff is in the car forcing himself on Lorraine when George does show up.

Thinking it’s Marty in the car, George opens the car door and says “Get your damn hands off…!” but he’s shocked by what he sees. Biff tells him to walk away, but George gets up enough courage to tell him to leave Lorraine alone. Biff gets out of the car and twists George’s arm, and it seems he’ll break it. Lorraine tells Biff to stop, but he turns and pushes her down, and seeing this is what pushes George to his limit. With his free hand, George hauls off and punches Biff in the face, knocking him out. This is a big audience cheer moment, as George then escorts Lorraine inside to the dance, where she sees him in a whole new light as her savior and hero.

— Marty Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You —

When Marty was locked in the trunk, it was the band playing the dance who rescued him, but in doing so, the guitarist cut his hand and couldn’t go on with the show. This is disastrous, considering that Marty’s parents need to dance together so they can share their first kiss and fall in love. In desperation, Marty fills in on guitar, his parents dance, kiss, fall in love, and Marty’s life is no longer in jeopardy; he can now go meet Doc and the DeLorean and go back to 1985 where he belongs.

But before he leaves the dance, the band implores him to do one more song, “something that really cooks.” So Marty starts playing Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” a rock and roll song that becomes a hit in 1958. The sound is new to everyone, but the students seem to like it, and start dancing to it. After a while though, the hard-rockin’ Marty gets a little too enthusiastic with the song, playing a blistering guitar solo complete with tapping (I always get the chills during that part). He starts jumping up and down, rolling on the floor, even kicks over an amp before he sees that no one is dancing anymore. He realizes that he probably went a little overboard for 1955. “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet,” Marty tells the crowd. “But your kids are gonna love it.”

— Gotta Get Back In Time —

The climatic sequence of the film comes when Marty must attempt to travel back to 1985 in the DeLorean. Remember the 1.21 gigawatts needed to power the DeLorean? Doc had said that they’d need a bolt of lightening to generate that kind of power. Luckily, Marty knows that in 1955 lightening struck the town’s Clock Tower on the same night as the dance.

So now Marty must drive the vehicle at 88 miles per hour passed the cable attached to the clock tower at the precise moment the lightening strikes. Being a risky venture, the plan doesn’t go accordingly, but in the end, the hook attached to the outside of the DeLorean makes contact with the lightening cable and zoom! Marty is gone from 1955 leaving only two fire trails behind. Success!

— Roads? —

In the end, Marty returns to 1985 to find that his family is in a much better place. Everyone’s happy, his parents are into each other, his siblings aren’t losers, and Jennifer is still his loving girlfriend. Just when Marty tells Jennifer “Everything is great,” Doc reappears with the DeLorean saying that Marty has to go back in to the future with him.

“What happens to us in the future?,” Marty asks. “Do we become assholes or something?” Turns out, Marty and Jennifer are fine in the future, it’s their kids who have the problem. With that, the couple piles into the DeLorean with Doc at the wheel. Marty notices that where they are there’s not enough road to get the car up to 88 miles per hour. “Roads?” Doc replies. “Where we’re going we don’t need any roads.” The film ends as we see the DeLorean rise up, then fly off with a blast into the future.


  1. Though odd, the pronunciation of gigawatt with a soft “g” is an acceptable pronunciation. Some European scientists pronounceable it like that.

    The US National Bureau of Standards formalized the pronounciation with the hard “g” in the 60s and 80s.

    Comment by Bdog2g2 — October 25, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

  2. Couldn’t tell you where “pronounceable”. That’s what happens when my brain is dictating and my fingers are doing their own thing.

    Comment by Bdog2g2 — October 25, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  3. One of the moments that always gets me is when Doc says “Knowing that I’m going to have a chance to travel through time” and Marty looks sick. Touching moment, beautifully played by Fox and Lloyd.

    Comment by Locutus — October 26, 2010 @ 1:06 am

  4. Just reading, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need any roads” just gave me chills…love that this movie.

    Comment by Maureen — October 26, 2010 @ 10:32 am

  5. *this movie*…sigh.

    Comment by Maureen — October 26, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  6. One of my favs, wish I would have seen it at one of these screenings. Gonna get the Bluray though!

    Comment by Fierste — October 26, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  7. Great Scott!! The Delorian is for sale!!

    Don’t drive above 88 miles per hour.

    Comment by ConradJohnson — October 26, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

  8. @ConradJohnson — looks like the real thing:

    “A DeLorean DMC-12 which has been modified into a time machine, powered by plutonium which generates 1.21 gigawatts of power into a device called the \”flux capacitor\”. The car travels to a programmed date upon reaching 88 miles per hour.”

    Comment by ClubRangers — October 26, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

  9. “I’m your density”

    Comment by Tim — October 26, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

  10. I LOVE THIS FILM. When George punches Biff, THAT is the best part.

    Comment by Karl — November 4, 2010 @ 9:42 am

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