Back to the Future
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this family time-travel favorite includes sequences that place the hero and his friends in physical jeopardy: a gunfight in which a sympathetic character is thought to be killed, a van chasing a teen on a skateboard, several episodes of bullying, and more. The violence is exaggerated and closer in tone to cartoon jeopardy than real danger, but some kids will no doubt find it tense. Several scenes show the hero's discomfort when the girl who will eventually be his mother tries to entice him with kisses and embraces; there's also implied unwanted sex, but nothing serious happens. Strong language includes a couple memorable uses of "s--t," as well as "bastards," "damn," "a--hole," and a couple of racial slurs in the 1950s-set scenes. It's worth noting that this is the movie that alerted the public to the concept of product placement, with controversy arising from the near-constant visuals of Pepsi products and other brands.
What's the story?
Brimming with lighthearted energy, BACK TO THE FUTURE mixes science fiction with romantic comedy for a classic 1980s blockbuster. To avoid being shot by terrorists, teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels back to the 1950s via a DeLorean time machine invented by his friend/mentor Emmett "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd), a lovable, wide-eyed, wild-haired stork of a mad scientist. Marty quickly gets more than he bargained for, accidentally interfering with the courtship of his own parents. He must aid his father in standing up to Biff (Thomas F. Wilson), the town bully, to get the attention of Marty's mother, to ensure his own future existence.
Is it any good?
The film remains light and breezy, never taking time travel too seriously. And both romance and science defer to adventure. That said, the sci-fi subplot never disappears for more than a scene or two. Marty's friendship with Doc is at heart of the film, and it keeps the mid-section from becoming just another romantic comedy.
Adult viewers may find that the film milks anachronisms for one joke too many, but kids are likely to get as much of a kick out of the dated clothing, music, and slang of 1980s as Marty gets out of the lack of TV reruns and Tab soda in '50s. It should come as little surprise that Steven Spielberg executive produced Back to the Future. Like so many of his films, it manages to blend heady science-fiction, humor, adventure, and romance while retaining an exuberance and a sense of wonder familiar to anyone under the age of 12.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays bullying. Have you ever encountered a situation like that, either directly or online?
What do Marty and George learn during the movie? How can people defend themselves without resorting to violence?
Talk about your own family history -- as in when Mom met Dad.