Back to the Future is one of those special movies that neatly encapsulates an era — and it's not just "the '80s" or "the '50s." Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox, as if there's any way you didn't know) is your typical 1985 dude. Trust me, high school was full of guys with that hair cut and that innocuous social stature. His dreams — rock-band success, a hot girl, a hot ride — were shared by millions of mid-80s guys, and, thanks to Doc Brown's bitchin' time machine, we discover that these were the popular dreams of American boys 30 years prior to that. Screenwriters Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (the latter a University City native) accurately portray the teen years of the middle class as one of tedium and frustration, but by projecting McFly backwards to the even more button-down '50s, his humdrum nature becomes alien and unique. That's not a knock on the film; that's the secret to its lingering success. Despite the perception of rampant teen pregnancy, drugs, guns and jackass behavior in our high schools, millions of middle class kids live the McFly way year after year: skating, playing in garage bands, chasing girls and ending up just like their parents. You know, decent human beings. Wrap that message in a couple chase scenes and some in-jokes about rock & roll, and baby, you have a timeless movie. Back to the Future screens at midnight Friday and Saturday (September 5 and 6) at the Tivoli Theater (6350 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-862-1100). Tickets are $7.
Fri., Sept. 4; Sat., Sept. 5, 2009