October 22, 2015

"I just saw the whole Back to the Future trilogy in the theater."

My son John blogs:
Well, that was fun. The Back to the Future movies are probably better enjoyed one at a time than back to back....
The first and the second each end with a to-be-continued cliffhanger which is supposed to be fun because you have to wait.
I never once felt like leaving and finishing the rest some other time by watching the DVDs I have at home. It was the most enthusiastic movie audience I've ever been part of — people applauded and hooted not only during various climactic moments, but also when the time machine and Doc first appeared, the first time one of the characters said the words "back to the future," and of course, when Doc said "October 21, 2015."
There are some live-theater experiences that cannot be had at home.
At one point, Back to the Future Part III stopped in the middle... Audience members called out things like: "You've disrupted the space-time continuum!" "Not enough jigowatts!"
I love stuff like that... much as I hate the malfunctions. I was once in some little theater in Greenwich Village that was showing the Marlon Brando movie "The Fugitive Kind" — "Val Xavier, a drifter of obscure origins arrives at a small town and... is pursued by Carol Cutere..." Marlon and Carol/Joanne Woodward are tooling along in a sportscar and she's saying: "I'm just a lewd vagrant, and I'm gonna show 'em, and show 'em all, just how lewd a lewd vagrant can be, when she puts her whole heart into it, the way I do mine," and then she suddenly points off screen and says: "Hey, turn off here." Immediately, the film malfunctions and shuts down, as if the projectionist had taken "Hey, turn off here" as an order. I've never been simultaneously so amazed and annoyed.

41 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I cannot stand audience commentary in a theater. I go there to watch the movie, not to hear "humorous" quips by fellow patrons.

rehajm said...

There are some live-theater experiences that cannot be had at home.

Great Scott!

Anonymous said...

Despite being the perfect age for it, I've never seen Back to the Future. As a kid, I thought it looked stupid and avoided it; Due to the genuine enthusiasm I saw, I started watching it last night.

It was painful. Made it to the end of the first DeLorean scene and logged off. (I'm not a Dr. Who follower, so I'll need someone else to tell me how much was "a tribute" to Dr. Who?) I used to really like "War Games" and that is also painful in retrospect, though less so. Ferris Bueller held up the best, for the longest.

I enjoyed the spot on perfect representation of a Californian tract home from the 70s/80s. I remember trick or treating at houses like that.

Ann Althouse said...

I've never watched any "Dr. Who." Maybe a few minutes, trying to see what was to like and failing.

Ann Althouse said...

The first movie is the best. I especially like Crispin Glover.

Ann Althouse said...

The second movie, which we watched last night, is very heavy on the Biff, if you like a ridiculously over-the-top bully.

The third movie, I've only seen once, and found it a bit boring. Very heavy on the love story between Doc and Mary Steenburgen, as I recall. Maybe if you love trains and cowboys, you'll love it.

JackOfVA said...

"Not enough jigowatts!"

It's actually spelled "gigawatts" and pronounced with a hard "g," although I understand the dialog sounds more like jigowatts.

Tom from Virginia said...

Speaking of movies that hold up well 30 years later: Broadcast News.

And movies that seem really cheesy 30 years later: Dead Again.

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

There are some live-theater experiences that cannot be had at home.

They still show/perform Rocky Horror Picture Show, every Saturday midnight, at the Nuart in West L.A.

EMD said...

You may not know it, but you're happier at the movies.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

"Jigowatts" is the Hollywood spelling, according to Wikipedia.

tim in vermont said...

"Jigowatts" is also funnier.

John Althouse Cohen said...

It's actually spelled "gigawatts" and pronounced with a hard "g," although I understand the dialog sounds more like jigowatts.

That's why I spelled it "jigowatts," which is "the standard spelling for the movie." If you spell it "gigawatts," it's pronounced with a hard "g," which isn't how it's pronounced in the movie.

Birches said...

The first Back to The Future is fantastic. The rest less so.

Laslo Spatula said...

I think the first film would've benefitted from a much deeper exploration of its incest theme.

In film, "deeper exploration" often requires a nude scene.

Of course it does.


I am Laslo.

richlb said...

I watch it every so often and thing the movie holds up extraordinarily well with time. Perhaps it's because 80% of it takes place in the 50's, which I have no personal point of reference for. The only thing at all that doesn't hold up is the flaming-tire-tracks-between-the-legs scene. Given how well I think all of the other effects in the movie look, this one just stands out as bad. I would have suggested to Zemekis that if you can't make it look any better than that, just don't use the shot. It's so bad every time I see it.

richlb said...

Also, has anyone interviewed Eric Stoltz about the anniversary of the film?

EMD said...

The first Back to The Future is fantastic. The rest less so.

It's hard to catch that lightning again. But, It can and does happen. Empire Strikes Back, Rocky Balboa, Godfather II, The Road Warrior. Christmas Vacation, Spider-Man II, Wrath of Khan, Evil Dead 2, The Dark Knight, Toy Story 2, T2, Aliens.

Makes me worry a bit about Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

bwebster said...

My favorite theater malfunction story -- which, fortunately, I did not personally witness -- happened in my hometown of San Diego, on opening day for "Return of the Jedi" back in 1983. (I actually saw it the night before, at a benefit premiere up in Los Angeles.) One theater in National City discovered that it had no #4 (out of 7) reels, but rather two copies of reel #2. The missing reel was supposedly on a plane from LA, but was late; news reports are conflicting, but the theater owner either just skipped ahead to reel #5 or replayed reel #2. In any case, there was a near-riot inside the theater; these were fans who had waited in line all night to see the first showing.

Here's the UPI report: http://www.upi.com/Archives/1983/05/26/A-theater-operator-went-ahead-with-a-showing-of/4743422769600/

Unknown said...

Most of the films Zemeckis has directed are too over-the-top for me. They become silly to the point of being tedious (including Forrest Gump). I think his best work was in Romancing the Stone (which imo didn't push the envelope quite so far) and Cast Away.

MikeR said...

"I just saw the whole Back to the Future trilogy in the theater."
Anne, you must be so proud.

Nonapod said...

I've never been a huge fan of the Back to the Future movies despite being:

a) pretty much the exact right age for them (born in '74)
b) an enormous SciFi geek from childhood

I love Doctor Who, Time Bandits, Star Trek, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Ghost Busters, comic books, video games, Dungeons & Dragons, ect ect ect, but for whatever reason I've never been that big a fan of the BttF franchise. I don't dislike them, mind you, I just don't get the reverence that some people seem to have for them. I watched all 3 Back to the Future movies in theaters when I was a kid, and even then I was kinda indifferent to them. I don't know why I don't love them, I just don't.

averagejoe said...

"There are some live-theater experiences that cannot be had at home." To quote Two-Ton Tony Galento: "Definitely". Saw a John Waters double-bill at the Regent Showcase Theater at Melrose and La Brea years ago. Classic movie house with baroque adornments, huge screen and large stage. It might have been Halloween, there were stage acts before and between the films, a magician with disappearing birds, a drag act, and some other vaudevillian throwbacks I can't recall. The two movies were 'Pink Flamingos" and "Cecil B DeMented". Interesting contrast between the early inspired unflinching anarchy of the earlier film, and the polished, professional and tame later movie. A hundred years or so ago a theater like the Orpheum or Keith would show movies during the day and have a vaudeville show running at night. Those were the days...

mikee said...

I saw The Shining in a 50 seat Atlanta mall theater during a daylong airport layover. My friend and I were the only adults in the packed theater, and the other four dozen kids under 16 years of age that comprised the audience were very, very vocal.

Screams of anticipation, screams of fright, screams of advice throughout. And when the elevator of blood opened its doors, half the audience dropped to the floor and half climbed onto their seats with 100% screaming.

Best. Movie. Experience. Ever.

Birches said...

@ EMD

I'll see your Toy Story 2 and raise you Toy Story 3---probably my favorite of the franchise.

@ Unknown I love Romancing the Stone. I think we just watched it on Netflix not too long ago. I was worried it wouldn't hold up. It's still good.

Bay Area Guy said...

My kids still love those movies. I was probably just finishing high school when the first BTTF came out, and I enjoyed it. Michael J. Fox was pretty popular back then -- had a good run. He got famous playing an uppity, but funny Republican teenager, with ex-hippie parents in Family Ties. A reverse All in the Family -- I think the show was very popular for 4 or 5 years.

Thorley Winston said...

@ Unknown I love Romancing the Stone. I think we just watched it on Netflix not too long ago. I was worried it wouldn't hold up. It's still good.

I totally agree on Romancing the Stone – I saw it in the theater as a kid – I don’t know why my friend’s parents picked that movie for a kid’s birthday party but we just roared with laughter at the “little mule.” I rewatched it about a year ago On Demand and I agree that it holds up very well.

On the other hand, I tried rewatching Ghostbusters which I remembered enjoying as a kid and it just didn’t do it for me. I still love Caddyshack and Stripes but this one just didn’t hold up for me.

FullMoon said...

MadisonMan said...
I cannot stand audience commentary in a theater. I go there to watch the movie, not to hear "humorous" quips by fellow patrons.


I prefer arriving early and taping the fart machine to a seat two rows down. In a packed theater, only a matter of time before accusatory looks amongst patrons in that row enhance my enjoyment of any film, excluding, of course, Schindlers list.

Robt C said...

When the first Star Wars prequel came out, I joined a long line of excited movie-goers to see it. (Everybody was so happy for a new Star Wars movie they didn't realize how bad it was.) Just as the first "Battle" scene started and all the ray guns went off, the sound did too. Nothing. After a few seconds, the guys next to me started going "pew pew pew" in that classic sci-fi way. Pretty soon the whole theater was doing it and laughing it up too. It was almost a disappointment when the sound came back on.

CWJ said...

OK fine. But bad CWJ says, what is this Big Bang Theory?

madAsHell said...

The chum is in the water, but there is no Hillary/Benghazi post?
I figure that topic will be easily over 200 comments.

Rhythm and Balls said...

What's a jigolowatt?

mccullough said...

The part of the second movie set in the 1950s was pretty cool. Marty had to avoid his other self while getting the sports book back from Biff.

sinz52 said...

I wonder how many young people today, watching "Back to the Future" for the first time, get the joke about "Pepsi Free."

Because the Pepsi Free brand name was phased out 18 years ago. (The drink still exists, but now it's just called "Caffeine-Free Pepsi.")

tim in vermont said...

Toy Story 3 should be an opera. It is that good of a story. If The Nutcracker Suite can be a ballet...

MadisonMan said...

I love Romancing the Stone.

Never saw it. I recall when it came out that it was condemned - that's too strong a word -- as a cheap Raiders knock-off, and that turned me off.

Maybe I should give it a view now.

Toy Story 3 is the one movie I completely bawled at. (In my defense, I'll say it resonated with me because my kids were leaving the house for college at the time).

Schorsch said...

When I saw "Pi," which is pretty raw and experimental for a narrative film, right in the middle of a heated scene a character yells "You've got to take a breath!" and immediately the theater goes pitch black. Fifty-odd art house moviegoers sat silent for more than a minute, certain that this was a brave artistic choice, until the usher told us the power was out on the whole block. I'd still say this was the greatest experience I've ever had at the movies.

BN said...

I sometimes dream of living in a time before movies made reality boring.

BN said...

Althouse: " Maybe if you love trains and cowboys..."

So, like, uh... if you love... America.

(though, to be honest, these films, imo, are just fillers in the wasted time of existence.)

Oops. Was that revealing too much?

Honesty sucks. I'm going to avoid it in the future.

...unless I'm drinking or something.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Hillary Clinton said she "racked my brains" tring to figure out what she could have done differently - but she didn't come up with anything, nor with anything about the set-up in the State Department that could have been different.

Nichevo said...

So, no changes, lessons learned, we can expect this again tomorrow?