Back to the Future Problem

The original Back to the Future is largely considered to be a perfect movie. It’s a tight, clever, and fun screenplay that pays off everything it sets up in a very satisfying way, and Robert Zemeckis directed and co-wrote the hell out of it with Bob Gale. However, there’s one long-standing question that fans have pondered over the years, and after Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn called attention to it recently, Bob Gale himself explained the “problem” away.

If you’ve been on Twitter the past few days, you might have noticed that there’s a viral hashtag asking people to come up with #FivePerfectMovies. That’s five movies that you think are perfect just the way they are, and you wouldn’t change a thing about them. Back to the Future has frequently come up on these lists, but James Gunn brought up the one issue that almost keeps the movie from being perfect.

The issue is that George and Lorraine McFly don’t seem to remember meeting their future son, Marty McFly (aka Calvin Klein), when he’s the one responsible for them getting together to begin with, and they don’t question why Marty looks like the kid who brought them together back in 1955. There’s even a scene where Lorraine says Marty is such a nice name, showing why their son ended up being named Marty.

Fans have considered this to be a “plot hole” for a long time. But Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt attempted to explain it away by thinking that maybe they do remember Marty, but we just don’t see that moment, whenever it may have happened.

It turns out Chris Pratt is partially right. Back to the Future co-writer Bob Gale talked to The Hollywood Reporter about this little nitpick, and here’s how he explained it away:

“Bear in mind that George and Lorraine only knew Marty/Calvin for eight days when they were 17, and they did not even see him every one of those eight days. So, many years later, they still might remember that interesting kid who got them together on their first date. But I would ask anyone to think back on their own high school days and ask themselves how well they remember a kid who might have been at their school for even a semester. Or someone you went out with just one time. If you had no photo reference, after 25 years, you’d probably have just a hazy recollection.”

Plus, you’ve gotta remember that it would take a long time for Marty to start resembling the guy they knew back in 1955. And by then, they wouldn’t really see him as Marty/Calvin Klein from 30 years ago, but just as their son. Gale wrapped up his explanation:

“So Lorraine and George might think it funny that they once actually met someone named Calvin Klein, and even if they thought their son at age 16 or 17 had some resemblance to him, it wouldn’t be a big deal. I’d bet most of us could look thru our high school yearbooks and find photos of our teen-aged classmates that bear some resemblance to our children.”

So there you have it. Personally, I never really thought this was something that needed to be explained away. It seemed like common sense that their parents wouldn’t remember this guy they briefly knew for a week, even if he had an integral part of their young lives.

But there’s one other weird problem with Marty that needs to be explained. If Lorraine liked the name Marty so much, why the hell did she wait until they had a third kid to use it?

Cool Posts From Around the Web: