Back to the Future (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Back to the Future (1985)



Critic Consensus: Inventive, funny, and breathlessly constructed, Back to the Future is rousing a time-travel adventure with an unforgettable spirit.

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Movie Info

Contemporary high schooler Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) doesn't have the most pleasant of lives. Browbeaten by his principal at school, Marty must also endure the acrimonious relationship between his nerdy father (Crispin Glover) and his lovely mother (Lea Thompson), who in turn suffer the bullying of middle-aged jerk Biff (Thomas F. Wilson), Marty's dad's supervisor. The one balm in Marty's life is his friendship with eccentric scientist Doc (Christopher Lloyd), who at present is working on a time machine. Accidentally zapped back into the 1950s, Marty inadvertently interferes with the budding romance of his now-teenaged parents. Our hero must now reunite his parents-to-be, lest he cease to exist in the 1980s. It won't be easy, especially with the loutish Biff, now also a teenager, complicating matters. Beyond its dazzling special effects, the best element of Back to the Future is the performance of Michael J. Fox, who finds himself in the quagmire of surviving the white-bread 1950s with a hip 1980s mindset. Back to the Future cemented the box-office bankability of both Fox and the film's director, Robert Zemeckis, who went on to helm two equally exhilarating sequels. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Michael J. Fox
as Marty McFly
Christopher Lloyd
as Dr. Emmett Brown
Crispin Glover
as George McFly
Lea Thompson
as Lorraine Baines
Thomas F. Wilson
as Biff Tannen
Claudia Wells
as Jennifer Parker
Marc McClure
as David McFly
Wendie Jo Sperber
as Linda McFly
George DiCenzo
as Sam Baines
James Tolkan
as Strickland
Frances Lee McCain
as Stella Baines
Harry Waters Jr.
as Marvin Berry
J.J. Cohen
as Skinhead
Donald Fullilove
as Goldie Wilson
Elsa Raven
as Clocktower Lady
Will Hare
as Pa Peabody
Ivy Bethune
as Ma Peabody
Jason Marin
as Sherman Peabody
Katherine Britton
as Peabody Daughter
Jason Hervey
as Milton Baines
Maia Brewton
as Sally Baines
Jeff O'Haco
as Terrorist Van Driver
Johnny Green
as Scooter Kid
Jamie Abbott
as Scooter Kid
Sachi Parker
as Bystander
Robert Krantz
as Bystander
Tommy Lee Thomas
as Starlighter
David Harold Brown
as Starlighter
Lloyd L. Tolbert
as Starlighter
Paul Hanson
as Pinhead
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Critic Reviews for Back to the Future

All Critics (77) | Top Critics (16)

Zemeckis and Gale have cannily chosen the time periods, which are funny as much for their similarities (political and materalistic) as their contrasts (music, fashions, language).

October 21, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Every bit as classy, clever and cockle-warming as it was 30 years ago.

October 20, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Kids and parents alike are gonna dig this wonderful fantasy.

July 7, 2015 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Zemeckis and Gale have given the movie a core of feeling that makes real claims on us. For all its comedy, Back to the Future is about a kid coming to terms with his parents' inadequacies, a moment familiar to everyone, and the fulcrum in growing up.

June 23, 2015 | Full Review…

It isn't often that extremely clever moviemakers use their brains in the service of pure fun. But that's just what the people who made Back to the Future have done. This brilliant contraption of a film could become the hit of the summer.

June 26, 2013 | Full Review…

It's big, cartoonish and empty, with an interesting premise that is underdeveloped and overproduced.

June 26, 2013 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Back to the Future


A wonderful adventure that relies on a first-rate script full of nuances and details (some of which you only notice after watching the film thirty times), great visual effects, an unforgettable score and an exceptional cast - especially Crispin Glover, who deserved an Oscar.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

I love Back to the Future. While having a typical 80s feel to it, which I like, I love how fun, irresistible and original the film is. The special effects are dazzling and the comedy is suitably sly and sophisticated. Helping along the way is a script that is pretty ingenious, the sort of script that has quotable lines and also pokes fun at 1950s icons and lifestyles during the frequent bouts of time travelling. The score by Alan Silvestri elevates the sense of fun to a greater level, the main theme is one of the most memorable themes ever in the history of film, or so I think anyway. Robert Zemekis's direction is very good, and the cinematography, scenery and costumes are also excellent. And I have to mention the acting, Michael J Fox is really appealing in the role of Marty McFly, the role that propelled him to stardom, and Christopher Lloyd is brilliant in one of his most memorable roles(and yes this includes Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Professor Plum from Clue). Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover are also great. Overall, brilliant film that is good in so many ways. 4 stars 10-27-07 (Updated)

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

Oh yes, an 80's classic that still is the talk of the town whenever words like best blockbuster flicks of all time are thrown into a conversation. Quite honestly, I remember seeing snippets of "Back to the Future" when I was younger, but never did I sit through from the opening scene to the ending credits. Finally in the year 2013, after 28 memorable years of movies, I can proudly say that I have finally seen one of the greatest blockbusters of all time. 28 years... it's really been that long? Undoubtedly, "Back to the Future" shows some age: Michael J. Fox is extremely young, the special effects look dated, and the camerawork isn't on the same caliber as today's standards. But those are only just minor complaints for an otherwise impeccably well-made film. What holds it up after the test of time? It's the interesting premise involving the paradox of time travel that still continues to be mimicked by multiple other Sci-fi flicks. Premise alone is nothing, but with effective drama, real tension, and entertaining narrative dips and dives, "Back to the Future" manages to be a well-rounded blockbuster movie. "Back to the Future" was and still is a one-of-a-kind. With a new generation of film lovers coming our way, I'm afraid that "Back to the Future"'s gonna be forgotten in a pile of other movies that were directly influenced by "Back to the Future" itself. Don't let its age scare you. It is worth your time and is one of those few rare flicks that is rewatchable time and time again.

Albert Kim
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer

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