[Crash course for newcomers: We’re conducting a three-year experiment in which, for every year, we have to watch the same movie once a week. I had Top Gun last year, in the category Movie You Don’t Love, But Don’t Hate. This year I have Back to the Future for Movie You Love. Check out what everyone else is watching on our Cinemanauts page. These are my experiment results for November 2013.]

Look, I know a lot of these results are less scientific and more “hmm, this ketchup bottle kinda looks like Huey Lewis,” but trust me, this is the month I had the most Pavlovian, earth-shaking, holy-crap-my-mind-is-imploding reaction to something. And that something was a Flux Capacitor Day viewing of Back to the Future Part II.

Wait a minute, this is Part I, everything seems in order here–


Ugh, seriously, look at that. Everything is different. For those not in the know, Claudia Wells couldn’t return for the sequel to Back to the Future, so they cast Elisabeth Shue as Jennifer Parker this time around. To ease us into the change, they completely reshot the end of the first and stuck it at the beginning of the second. It’s an admirable attempt to recreate the past… unless a science experiment has forced you to watch the ending scene of Part I 45 times.

No, don’t do it again, don’t–


Look at those screenshots. Just look at them. I’ve seen both of these movies plenty of times and the contrast has never majorly bothered me before, but now that I’m fully conditioned to every subtle nuance of the original, throwing this impostor into the mix caused me to literally scream. Everything is wrong! The angles! The hair! The age difference! The props! That babysitter from Adventures in Babysitting! I was freaking out more than I did about the not-quite-human humans in The Polar Express. STOP SHATTERING MY REALITY, ROBERT ZEMECKIS.


It should be noted that this isn’t the first time I watched Back to the Future Part II this year, nor do I have a problem with Elisabeth Shue or Robert Zemeckis making an honest effort to smooth over a casting change, but nevertheless, the sense of utter wrongness shook me to my core.

Now here’s a bit of interesting comparative data. While on my way home to watch Back to the Future for Flux Capacitor Day (specifically at 11:41am on November 5th, 2013, in case you were wondering), I tried to recall the length of the film from memory. It’s roughly two hours, I remembered, but exactly how many minutes, I couldn’t say. Then my mind wandered to the runtime on Top Gun, which I had the displeasure of watching 52 times for last year’s experiment… 110 minutes. I recalled that information instantly. Was it because I dislike that movie, therefore I was more aware of exactly how much of my life it was wasting every week? I texted Cinemanaut John and asked him to think of the running times for High Fidelity and Jurassic Park, and he was more accurate in regards to Jurassic Park, the film he actually liked. Hmm. Science.


On November 13th, 2013 at 12:55am, I saw the following Facebook ad and thought the vehicle in the picture was Doc Brown’s DeLorean.

It was, in fact, a silver pick-up truck with hay in the back. Close enough.

On November 20th, 2013 at 1:08pm, I was watching the show QI on Hulu (Series 10, Episode 6) and wondered why they would put such a gigantic speaker behind host Stephen Fry…

…and then I realized it was just part of the set. So why did I think it was a gigantic speaker?

No idea.

And, to jump from Back to the Future to Top Gun, look at this photo they used on QI just six episodes later, which I saw on November 22nd, 2013 at 1:50am:


The panel was talking about how a goose can be tricked into thinking a volleyball is an egg, but all I thought about was another Goose that loves volleyball.

And is capable of flight.

For the record, I didn’t just think of Top Gun. I was actively mad that not one comedian on the panel made a joke about Top Gun. Not. One. You’d think the movie was forgettable or something.

Staying with Top Gun, on November 29th, 2013 at 4:12am, I saw a news report about disputed airspace over the East China Sea. Part of this report included footage of an American aircraft carrier. Almost involuntarily, I immediately started doing a mouth guitar version of “Danger Zone.” Not humming. Not singing. Mouth guitar.

“Ba-doop-ah-dayr-der DUN NUN.”