WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME (Isla Nublar)

FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV

COMPANY: Cinemanaut John, though he’s supposed to be using my laptop to type. He just moved and there’s no Internet at his house yet.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: A little tired, but whee! First viewing, childhood favorite movie, never seen it on Blu-Ray before… begin! (Oh, do we have to spoiler alert? I guess. But see this movie.)


  • I’m instantly spotting details I never noticed before. (Whopper wrappers on Doc’s bed, a football alarm clock, etc.) Watching Top Gun 52 times has taught me that I will remember all of them by the end of the year.
  • The Blu-Ray looks gorgeous. John notes the same, and also mentions that Jurassic Park in HD is fantastic. Nice work, Universal.
  • John is headbanging to “The Power of Love,” a song nobody should headbang to ever.
  • James Tolkan is and always will be Strickland to me. He was just Strickland in a hat for all of Top Gun. Also, the old make-up on his neck looks like dried superglue.


  • Oh, man… when that DeLorean first comes down the ramp, it is pure magic. Gets me every time.
  • John and I are discussing what brilliant comedic actors Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd are. With two very differing performances, it’s a comedy pairing that could have been awful. Luckily, they play off of each other wonderfully.
  • Whoa, Doc’s also got a case of the glue neck.

This guy needs a complete overhaul.

  • I hate that Doc says “an historic journey.” There’s an “H” there. It isn’t “istory,” and you aren’t British.
  • John points out that if the Libyans had showed up just ten minutes later, Marty would be standing there all alone in the parking lot. Unarmed. And probably getting gunned to death. Please don’t exist, fanfic of this scenario.
  • Hill Valley has a Future Farmers of America chapter. Marty, being from the future, should find them and tell them who accomplishes this goal and who does not.

“Sorry, Kenneth, not even one radish makes it. James, stick with corn. It’s gonna be big.”

  • Okay, readers, did any of you actually have a bully threaten physical violence if you didn’t do his homework for him? Sound off on your bullying experiences in the comments section.
  • “If she’s willing to fuck her son… and a duck… maybe I have a chance.” – Something I said aloud during this viewing that I hope the charming Lea Thompson does not ever read.
  • Whoa, a guy in the background of the “Kick Me” scene sort of looks like Rick Santorum. How old was he in 1985? 27, apparently.

“Yeah, Rick, I have to tell you about the future.”

  • POTENTIAL VIEWING INTEGRITY COMPROMISE? The doorbell rang while the movie was still on. I made John go answer it. It was a package for me. Headphones.
  • I love the score to this movie. It’s on such a grand scale. Probably a result of Star Wars and its big brassy throwback numbers, but really, it works wonderfully here.
  • John has fully stopped working on his Jurassic Park article. Back to the Future is just that good. So that’s why you’re currently reading this and not that.
  • I mentioned that Jurassic Park does not feature anyone in a fantastic cleavage-enhancing dress. On cue, John drew this nightmare…


I may or may not have caught John in an embarrassing moment during the credits. I beg you, clear 13 extra seconds in your busy day to watch this video.


I love this movie. Still do. That’s not exactly breaking news. And I think I’m still going to love it after watching it 51 more times. (The premise of this site, if you’re just joining us.)

Being all Top Gun-ified from last year, I dove right into comparisons to it at every turn. The story, the characters, the pacing, the score… everything is so much better here. Back in college, I had a great conversation with a writing professor about how Back to the Future is the kind of tightly compacted screenwriting that all major motion pictures should strive for. Which makes sense, because Joseph Campbell– NO. WAIT. Another week. We will get into Joseph Campbell and his wacky monomythical observations some other time. I promise. We’ll have to.

I direct you to Cinemanaut Becca, who is talking about Joseph Campbell 24/7.

What was missing from Top Gun, ultimately, was stomach butterflies. It’s pretty damn great when a movie gets you emotionally invested; indeed, it may be the only measure of its success. (Don’t say money.) Well, I’ve got Back to the Future in my blood. When George kisses Lorraine and, in that one moment, saves his entire family’s life… it hits me. Every time. Without fail. Big old gut punch. And Marvin Berry is crooning, “The vision of your happiness, whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh…” I can’t even… it’s tremendous. Yeah, so maybe Goose dying in Top Gun is supposed to be sad, but I never felt it. I really wonder how long it will take for the emotion to wear off after repeated viewings of Back to the Future. And, frankly, I fear it. But I must press on. Like any good scientist.

“Come on, Cinemanauts, into the nuclear car with you. That’s it.”

Oh, I have one observation in my first batch of notes that I thought about ignoring, but since there was some Planned Parenthood protest nonsense right near my home shortly after my first viewing, I thought I’d expand on it: abortion. (I know, first week topic! Woo!) When I was a kid, I sometimes wondered why, as things were looking worse and worse, Marty didn’t just tell his parents that, if they didn’t get together, he and his siblings would cease to be. I was too young to know that there are, in fact, many adults who do this sort of thing all the time. And before we get into all the “life begins at conception/Jesus/IHOP” stuff, we’re not talking biology, we’re talking the space-time continuum. Whenever you decide not to drink orange juice, you are aborting the future where you drank some orange juice. Simple as that.

Anyway, it’s tough to combine a very real ethical snag (to some) like abortion with a very fictional ethical snag (to some) like time travel. If you need to know where I stand (bye, some of you!), Planned Parenthood is so totally the best and you need to get those mashed-up baby posters out of here. And time travel (bye, some others of you?) is so totally something we should be attempting because more knowledge is always better, so you need to get those “Fuck Stephen Hawking” posters out of here. (Unless you’re on a quest to score Stephen Hawking some tail, which I find very noble of you.)

I bring this up because I think people exploit “the McFly scenario” when trying to tug on your heartstrings in the abortion debate. “Oh, if you could meet the fine young man or woman that might crawl out of you…” Yeah, that’s horseshit. Look, I’m about to Godwin’s Law, and for that I apologize, but we’re talking time travel here, and “you could kill Hitler” is literally an inescapable trope of cockslapping the laws of cause and effect.

Scenario: Hitler goes back in time to make sure his parents conceive him. Also heartwarming? Don’t answer, Hollywood. And when you steal that pitch, please mail all the unused cocaine to Cinema 52. You guys eventually max out, right?

But really, the universe is a series of things happening. Introduce time travel, and it is still a series of things happening, just not in the same order. Therefore, the same ethical dilemmas are still on the rubber gravity table. So for the purposes of the argument, whether it’s Marty or Adolf McFly that confronts George and Lorraine, it is the same situation: them deciding whether or not to have a baby. This time travel scenario is not murder, any more than not drinking your orange juice is murder. If it were, then heading down to the clinic with your meat signs instead of staying home and humping? Also sweet, sweet murder. Truly, there are an infinite number of scenarios in which these moral crusaders are totally boning up a new army for their cause, but it’s not this reality. I’d go on, but I’ve become terribly aroused.

I’ve debated with friends how the infinite universe thing affects time travel storytelling as a whole. Doesn’t that add a bit of futility to their struggle? Doesn’t it lose some emotional impact, not to mention entertainment value? Um, no? If you see it that way, your life must also be very boring. I think the story we’re presented in Back to the Future is packed with dramatic tension. I also think it could be just as interesting if Marty came clean to his parents. Ditto if Marty were a bit of a dickhead. It’s almost like multiple possibilities all have the potential to be complex and exciting…

Whoa, I just got a chill. I’m gonna like this year.

Lastly, if you were wondering if I’m going to spend 2013 making cheap, tasteless jokes at Michael J. Fox’s expense, no. We’re all fully aware that he’s a crazy Scientologist, a closeted homosexual, and he runs a lot in his movies. There’s no need to crack wise about it.