Director Robert Zemeckis confronts the oedipal heart of the time-travel genre with this zestfully tasteless 1985 tale about a teenager (Michael J. Fox) who's projected back to 1955 and then must arrange the romance of his parents—even though mom (Lea Thompson) seems more interested in her handsome son-of-the-future than in his potential pop, a groveling nerd. Zemeckis and his writing partner, Bob Gale, were among the few TV-influenced filmmakers of the mid-80s who weren't ashamed of their sources. They love the crassness, obviousness, and manic energy of old TV, and it gives their work (Used Cars, the screenplay of Spielberg's 1941) a uniquely American zip and vulgarity, like the best early-60s rock. With Christopher Lloyd, whose mad scientist act pays tribute to every great TV crazy from Sid Caesar to John Belushi.
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