This is how my much younger self reviewed BACK TO THE FUTURE in 1985:

Like most movies produced by the indefatigable Steven Spielberg, Bob Zemeckis's "Back to the Future" draws its inspiration principally from films and other cultural artifacts. Director Zemeckis ("Romancing the Stone") and his screenwriting partner, Bob Gale, have inverted elements of "It's a Wonderful Life," "The Time Machine," 1950's sitcoms, and the Oedipus complex. The result is pure nutty fun.

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is an archetypical 1980's teen-ager, living in Hill Valley, a once-picturesque small town whose vitality has long since ebbed to the nearby suburban shopping mall. One day he gets a call from his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), a mightily eccentric local scientist. Doc summons him to a late-night meeting at the mall for a demonstration of his latest invention: a DeLorean automobile converted into a time machine.

Unfortunately, the mechanism is powered with stolen plutonium, and some Libyan nationalists involved in the theft abruptly turn up and submachine-gun poor Doc.

Marty escapes in the DeLorean, whose controls Doc had previously set for Oct. 5, 1955 _ the day he recalled first coming up with the idea for his time machine. Marty is not especially delighted to find himself in an era of Patti Page records and poodle skirts, where his down vest is constantly mistaken for a life preserver; when he attempts to order a Pepsi Free in a diner, the counterman firmly tells him, "You order a Pepsi, you'll pay for it." Like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" or E.T., Marty would very much like to go home. Only they don't sell plutonium at the Texaco station, where gasoline is 19 cents a gallon and it's still possible to get your windshield cleaned and oil checked without asking. So Marty high-tails it to young Doc Brown, who, after some initial skepticism, gazes at a portrait of Thomas Edison and concocts a fantastic scheme to harness the power from a lightning bolt that Marty knows about in advance.

Marty has to straighten out some problems arising from his presence before the trip back, though. His mother (Lea Thompson), currently a teen-ager, has fallen in love with him. And his 17-year-old father (Crispin Glover) is a complete nerd who'd rather watch "Science Fiction Theater" on TV than ask Marty's mom-to-be to the senior dance, where they're supposed to fall in love. Unless Marty can play matchmaker, there may not be much of a future for him to travel back to.

That's only about a third of the plot of "Back to the Future," which amusingly explores that old science- fiction saw: If you could travel back in time, could you alter the outcome of events? What other changes would you risk making? In "It's a Wonderful Life," Jimmy Stewart got a chance to see what would happen if he'd never been born, the complex chain of circumstances that would overtake his family and friends.

Marty, on the other hand, is placed in a situation where he apparently has to meddle to make sure to make sure that he will be born. During the Eisenhower era, the mom he's known as a sexually uptight, chubby alcoholic is a sexy young girl who instantly develops the hots for Marty. She continually refers to him as "Calvin Klein," the name on his pastel underwear.

Can Marty hold off his mother's advances and encourage his bumbling, Walter Denton-ish dad to stand up to Biff (Thomas F. Wilson), the jock he knows will be bullying his dad when both men are in their forties? Should he warn Doc Brown of his distantly impending demise? Will Marty's knowledge of rock-and-roll and skateboards effect major social change?

The answers are hip and clever, and if they trade heavily on a mind-boggling series of coincidences, that's part of the joke. The biggest problem with this sort of story is the endless exposition required, and Zemeckis is a bit heavy-handed in the early part of the film, practically hitting you over the head with the fact that the black busboy in the diner _ partly by Marty's suggestion _ will someday become Hill Valley's mayor.

Fortunately, most of the explanations emanate from Doc Brown, and Lloyd _ of TV's "Taxi" and the similarly dense "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai" _ is hilarious in his outsized portrayal of a definitive mad scientist, a white-haired zany who apologizes because he didn't have time to make a model of the town square exactly to scale.

Lloyd ends up dominating the film, but Fox is quite good also as the time-shifted Marty. Fox (TV's "Family Ties"), who replaced Eric Stolz ("Mask") in the role two weeks into shooting, has a natural charm and laid-back humor that Zemeckis puts to good use. Thompson ("All the Right Moves") and Glover ("Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter") are amusing archetypes in the 1955's segments, less so in the contemporary scenes, where they're hampered by the somewhat grotesque makeup used to turn them into Marty's middle-aged parents.

Zemeckis and Gale have attempted to rewrite history before; "I Want to Hold Your Hand" told a fictional story about Jersey teen-agers trying to sneak in to visit the Beatles at the Plaza Hotel in 1963, while "1941" was a wild speculation on what would have happened if post-Pearl Harbor hysteria in Los Angeles had reached epidemic proportions.

Zemeckis and Gale, the gifted satirists who collaborated on "Used Cars," have cannily chosen the time periods in "Back to the Future," which are funny as much for their similarities (political and materalistic) as their contrasts (music, fashions, language). They're greatly abetted by Laurence Paull's production design and Dean Cudney's golden-hued photography, which brilliantly depicts the blight and graffiti that overtakes Hill Valley over 30 years. The changes on Main Street provide a springboard for the movie's best gag, a neat twist on the climax of Capra's classic.

Though he takes enough time to establish emotionally satisfying relationships between Marty, his young parents, and Doc Brown, Zemeckis employs the kind of precision pacing and state-of-the-arts special effects that characterize Spielberg's better efforts as a producer. Unlike "The Goonies," this one is worth waiting in line to see.

"Back to the Future" opens locally today. The PG-rated film contains stylized violence and an attempted sexual assault, tactfully rendered. {BOX}

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