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'Back To The Future' Is Still A Great Story, Twenty-Five Years Later

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox both talk about Back To The Future in interviews for the new 25th Anniversary DVD and Blu-ray release of the entire trilogy. Universal Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Universal Pictures

The new 25th Anniversary release of the Back To The Future trilogy on Blu-ray and DVD includes a huge load of special features — a multi-part documentary, deleted scenes, a nice Q&A with Michael J. Fox, information about the music, the poster art, the box office, the casting and recasting ... if you love the movie, there's plenty of extra stuff.

But what stands out the most about the movie is still ... the movie. The first movie, that is. (I can't say I've set aside time to watch the other two yet.)

Yes, it looks great on Blu-ray in HD, and it benefits from the care that's been taken to produce the set. And it's all work that would be for nothing if it weren't for the fact that the movie remains so winning, even after 25 years. The things that seem dated, from the Walkman to the Pepsi Free, pale in comparison to the things that don't: it's a fundamentally good-natured, funny, genuinely inventive story.

Talking in one of the making-of documentaries, the producers discuss the fact that they were advised at one point to take the film to Disney, probably because it was fun funny and kind of family-oriented. Disney, they report, thought they were nuts — it had incest in it, in the form of Marty McFly's mom planting one on him in the car back in 1955. It's easy to forget how totally wrong this could have gone, and how cheap the jokes could have been.

It didn't go that way. It's a movie that's just full of great jokes — all the little pokes at the time-travel issue (the sign for the Lone Pine Mall being the most famous), winks like Huey Lewis as the school official who declares Marty's band "too darn loud," and the fundamentally odd Crispin Glover, still and always fundamentally odd.

Nostalgia is natural, but it's also pretty cheap. It's one thing to look back at a movie like Top Gun and love it because it was iconic at a particular moment in time despite the fact that it is not, by most normal definitions, "good." But it's another to be impressed again by a movie like Back To The Future and realize that when so many of us loved it as kids or teenagers, we were ... actually right.

When you watch all the backstage stuff, what comes through is the great advantage enjoyed by things that are made with love. Yes, "love" is probably too strong a word in such a money-driven business, but the people who made it are fond of it; they remain fond of it. And their affection for it makes feeling nostalgic over it feel much less like a sucker bet.

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