A Look Back: How I Got Into College

“How I Got Into College,” looks pretty dated from this point, just look at the sky high eighties’ perms and clothes, but it still has some eternal truths about applying to college.  One, it feels like a life or death issue at the time.  Two, it makes you doubt everything you thought you knew about yourself, so keeping a sense of humor about the whole thing is useful.  And three, there is no greater relief at that age than receiving an acceptance letter (or its updated form).

Though we see the application process from multiple viewpoints (from the brain to the jock), our hero is Marlon Browne (Corey Parker), a terminally average high school senior who, when the movie opens, is being confounded by “Mr. A” and “Mr. B,” not your typical teen movie bullies, but two characters on his SATs, who interfere with his attempts to choose an answer by merciless razzing.  “You should have been in Jessica Kailo’s (Lara Flynn Boyle) SATs; you’d be drinking Gatorade by now,” Corey remarks as he tries to figure out the answer.  Corey is foggy about his college plans, until he discovers his dream girl, Lara, is applying to the (fictional) Ramsey College and decides to apply there, too.  Early on, he attends a college fair and when informed that Jesus wants him to attend a Christian school, responds, “He might not if he knew my SAT scores.”  The offer evaporates on the spot, but Ramsey is willing to take a chance on out of the box applicants, so there’s hope yet.

We then meet Anthony Edwards who plays Kip, a Ramsey admissions officer, who is not entirely sure he wants the added pressure of becoming dean despite the encouragement of his girlfriend..  He isn’t even the least ambivalent of his colleagues about what kind of student body to assemble.  Roughly half are more interested in playing juvenile pranks involving barnyard animals or are pompous jerks.  Fortunately, Anthony will, over the course of the movie, develop some maturity and wind up going to bat for Corey, who is the epitome of the late bloomer.

The Jessica Kailo character (who in hot girl movie tradition, is referred to by both her first and last names), has her own problems.  Her family wants her to attend the alma mater where all her older sisters have gone.  Though her interest in studying frescoes is pretty original, and she even demonstrate creativity by wearing Reeboks with her interview outfit, she becomes frazzled during the interview and comes to see herself as “boring and ordinary.”  Luckily Corey convinces her to apply anyway, and they even use SAT logic to figure out exactly fast to go in order to get there (it’s the day before the deadline) on time.

Besides Corey and Lara, we meet an array of other characters who are also applying to Ramsey, including the football player whose coach and mom won’t let him get a word in edgewise and inquire during their campus visit about stock options; the bright minority girl who describes her afterschool job as a “spud technician;” and the twin girls who are such mirror images that even the admissions board winds up confusing them.

The movie presents many scenarios you may conjure up while applying to college.  We briefly see the room where the applications are stacked in piles labeled “Not a Clue” and so forth.  We hear the admissions officer who reads a recommendation out loud and cracks, “Who wrote this crap? Lionel Richie?  But, as mentioned, Anthony’s character decides to take a stand, so there’s a happy ending.  And Marlon’s friend also realizes his dream of traveling the world with renegade game show hostesses (hey, why not) and the football player decides in the end to concentrate on philosophy.  So all’s well, that ends well.  (William Shakespeare)

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A Look Back: Adventures in Babysitting

“Adventures in Babysitting” is one of many movies of its era which presents the Big City as a setting akin to a moderately dangerous playground for its young, white, middle class suburban visitors, who will get into a ton of trouble, perhaps even demolishing a vehicle, on the way to learning valuable life lessons.  If you were a movie viewer from suburbia (as I was at the time), the city could appear to be an intimidating place.  For starters, there were unbalanced people.  There were armed people and hookers and homeless people huddled around fires in trash cans.  However, the city’s inhabitants, even appearing scary at first, often turned out to be helpful, even Good Samaritans in disguise.  So you also learned never to judge a book by its cover.

I should add that the cities I visited in the eighties were all pretty sedate by movie standards, but then I never went to the Big Apple or – John Hughes’ favorite setting: downtown Chicago, the setting of “Adventures of Babysitting,” (although Toronto often doubles as an American city).  When it opens, Elisabeth Shue is getting ready for her big date with Mike (Bradley Whitford), and she’s dancing around her bedroom.  How into him she is becomes clear after we see her fantasizing about walking down the aisle with him.  So this girl is smitten.

However, Bradley breaks the date, and Elisabeth winds up sitting for a neighbor family.  Her charges are Sarah (Maia Brewton, who would later give Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) valuable advice on women on “The Wonder Years”), Brad (Keith Coogan), and Brad’s friend, Daryl (Anthony Rapp), who decides to tag along when Elisabeth has to rescue her neurotic friend (Penelope Ann Miller), who has run away from home (parental issues) but then is having second thoughts.  Of course, social media has yet to be invented, so this means that Elisabeth has to take the car, bundle up the kids and head into the city to bail out her friend in person, and it’s going to take awhile to track her down.

On the way there, the car breaks down, and through some convoluted events involving a wacky driver who rescues them, they eventually wind up having to flee from bad guys because, I guess, there has to be some direct danger.  There is also a running gag about how Elisabeth (despite its being implied is not too popular with boys) resembles a specific Playboy centerfold.  Other challenges include having to perform an impromptu blues number at a club before they can leave; avoiding Maia’s and Keith’s parents who are attending a function in the city; and meeting Maia’s hero, Thor, or at least a lookalike, played by Vincent D’Onofrio.  Oh, and they also wind up running into Bradley, who’s busy romancing another girl in a restaurant, thus leading to my favorite exchange in the film.

Bradley to date: “A girl like you comes along once in a lifetime.”

Elisabeth walking up behind him: “Or sometimes twice in one night.”

Anyway, Bradley is appropriately shamed by the group, and then they’re off for more adventures, actually forgetting about Penelope, who is having her own gruesome set, until they remember and make it home in time.  And Elisabeth won’t be babysitting next Friday night because she has a date.  With Vincent, who we know is going to treat her a lot better than Bradley.  So in the end, virtue and a healthy helping of pluck turns out to be its own reward.

Movie Review: Tomorrowland

Just once, I’d like a movie character to get up wincing after being hurled unceremoniously into the air in a confrontation or outrunning a bomb detonated by the bad guys. Or someone who actually gets injured by flying glass, which would qualify as a hazard in reality. But in movies, everyone escapes without needing a tourniquet or a trip to the emergency room. Apparently, the big screen world consists of only Plexiglas, and all the human characters made of something other than flesh and blood.

“Tomorrowland,” offers scene after scene where the three heroes: George Clooney, Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy must fight hand-to-hand combat with the bad guys (spoiler: except for Hugh Laurie, they’re all robots), outrun explosions and other action scenes that are often spectacular but after awhile, since they seem to be almost nonstop, kind of tedious, too. There is a lot of violence in this PG movie, but most of the really gory stuff happens to androids, which tends to dilute the impact. It certainly didn’t seem to bother the young members of the audience I saw the movie with, all of whom appeared to be preteens. Still, I found it unpleasant that so many of the bad guys expired by losing their heads.

Britt Robertson plays Casey Newton, a scientifically gifted teen who winds up getting arrested for trespassing onto NASA property. When she gets her personals back before being released, she receives an odd button that turns out to commemorate the 1964 World’s Fair event.  By simply touching the thing, she’s hurled forward in time to a place called Tomorrowland, where creators of all stripes gather.  Like most future worlds, Tomorrowland turns out to be very shiny and sterile looking, with everyone dressed in white, although in this one, there’s actually more than one token non-minority hovercrafting around.

But – spoiler alert again – this turns out to simply be a recruitment commercial which Britt finds out after she meets George, who’s been thrown out of Tomorrowland, for the crime of inventing something that will let you know the date of your death.  Confession: I still don’t know why this invention got George expelled, but at least, he’s able to help Britt flee the bad guys, who hate her simply because she won’t provide the whereabouts of a major character (though at first, she isn’t lying).  Determined to again reach Tomorrowland, Britt’s also aided in her quest by a young, British-accented girl (Raffey Cassidy), who once had a special relationship with Young George, back when he was a fresh-faced boy inventor lugging his homemade Jetpack to the World’s Fair, only to be haughtily dismissed because it didn’t quite work.  Raffey, too, has been kicked out of Tomorrowland but continues to try and recruit – well, people like Brit, so they can (I think) save the world.

It turns out that Britt’s present world is about to expire, and naturally, this doesn’t make Britt too happy.  So there are confrontations and lectures by and with the various characters, and it turns out – surprise! – that there is a way to save the world that involves more action sequences and traveling around in time.  As far as I could tell, it involved crafting a robot army of whiz kids who would then recruit gifted non-robots who would then get transported to Tomorrowland to experience its awesomeness.  That’s how it ended, and although it doesn’t quote the Apple commercial about how the people crazy enough to want to change the world, are the ones who actually do, several of the end speeches head in that direction.  I didn’t quite get why these geniuses couldn’t change the world on Planet Earth, too, but maybe it’s because the new world only wants optimists.  Seriously.  So if you’re a genius and a pessimist, you’re out of luck if you want to visit Tomorrowland.

I ended the movie knowing very little about Tomorrowland (except for the commercial), so I guess you just have to take it on faith that it’s wonderful.  All the cast of this movie seems more than game, but ultimately, the movie is just another summer action movie.  Still, it made me daydream about a future that included hovercrafts, something I hadn’t done since seeing “Back to the Future 2.”

 

Pitch Perfect 2: An Abridged Script

INT. LINCOLN CENTER – BIG A CAPPELLA PERFORMANCE

CO-HOSTS of the PODCAST, JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS and ELIZABETH BANKS are busy BEING CATTY.

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS
Here we are again, back for the PITCH PERFECT SEQUEL. I’m basically Simon Cowell with misogynist attitudes air lifted from a fifties sitcom.

ELIZABETH BANKS
And I’m the other verbally abusive co-host, only once in awhile I say something nice to confuse everyone. Plus, I direct.

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS
Girls suck at directing. Anyway, may I introduce three time champions, BARDEN BELLAS, an all-female a cappella group, headed by ANNA KENDRICK and BRITTANY SNOW, performing – boy, do they stink or what? Also I would like to note that member REBEL WILSON is fatly unattractive. And unattractively fat.

ELIZABETH BANKS
Jeez, who peed in your Cheerios, no wait…Ah!

REBEL WILSON enters suspended on a PROP MOON and RIPS HER PANTS thus traumatizing an entire audience and setting off a chain panicked reaction on the talk show circuit because WARDROBE MALFUNCTIONS always take precedent in the news over such things as wars, riots and natural disasters.

INT. DEAN’S OFFICE

The BELLAS meet with the school DEAN, plus ELIZABETH and JOHN, who apparently have nothing better to do with their lives than mock already humiliated college kids.

REBEL WILSON
Look everyone, I am so sorry about the whole thing, even though it was technically an accident and probably the fault of whoever was handling the MOON in the first place. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.

DEAN
Are you sure you didn’t do it on purpose being that it’s every young woman’s dream to expose herself and have her private parts discussed endlessly in public? Isn’t that what all the kids are doing nowadays?

ANNA KENDRICK
Get real. And please don’t tell me we’re about to be subjected to a lot of ridiculous DISCIPLINARY MEASURES that we at first protest but then turn out not to matter at all in the end. We know how well that worked out in the first movie.

DEAN
No, you are. You will be replaced on your victory tour by a psychotically flawless German group whose members appear to have been made in a pop star laboratory. Also, you can’t compete at the big international competition, and you will forever after be in disgrace. Ha ha.

ELIZABETH BANKS
Plus you can’t accept any NEW MEMBERS, even if they happen to be PERKY, NAIVE but GIFTED HAILEE STEINFELD.

ANNA KENDRICK
Given that LOGIC is not this movie’s strong suit, I would like to propose an alternative. What about if we WIN the competition we CAN’T COMPETE AT in the first place. Would that make everything magically all right again?

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS
(laughs so hard, he wets himself)
Sure, but you’ll never win. You’re girls! Unless you get a sex change, you have no hope of winning.

ELIZABETH BANKS
(laughs so hard, she ruptures a blood vessel)
Also, you’re AMERICANS. Everyone hates Americans, although this is yet another obstacle that will somehow vanish and never again be a major part of the plot.

LOGIC
(steps in bear trap, is promptly trussed up and never heard from again)

ANNA KENDRICK
(checks watch)
Whatever. We shall rise above your mockery using pluck, positive thinking and girl power to triumph in the end.

BRITTANY SNOW
Do you have to be somewhere, ANNA?

ANNA KENDRICK
(looks trapped)
Just have to go…pick up some dry cleaning.

ANNA goes to her SUPER TOP SECRET INTERNSHIP at a RECORD COMPANY, headed by KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY, thus committing the major sin of not spending every waking moment with the Bellas, and also the one of actually building a resume for after graduation, if you can imagine.

INT. BELLAS’ HOUSE of SHAME

HAILEE STEINFELD knocks at the door.

BRITTANY SNOW
Can we help you?

HAILEE STEINFELD
Gosh, yes. My mom was a Bella, and I want to AUDITION more than anything in the whole wide world.

BRITTANY SNOW
We can’t – oh wait, why not? It’s not like we ever get penalized for doing anything except exposing ourselves.

HAILEE STEINFELD
(sings like an angel)

BRITTANY SNOW
All right, you’re in.

HAILEE STEINFELD
Also, I can write original tunes. Like, songs that have never existed before I wrote them down and they came out of my mouth.

BRITTANY SNOW
That’s nice, dear. But we’ll pass. For now anyway.

INT. PERFORMANCE CENTER

The BELLAS, who have come to see their rivals, DAS SOUND MACHINE, huddle miserably in the wings, while the group performs and totally BRINGS DOWN THE HOUSE.

BRITTANY SNOW
Boy, do they have a lot of props. That’s what we need, too! Get out those hula hoops pronto. Hey, what’s wrong, ANNA?

ANNA KENDRICK
I think I’m getting a crush on the leader, BIRGITTE HJORT SORENSEN, who goes by KOMMISSAR, even though I’m in a committed relationship with SKYLAR ASTIN. Whenever she says something snide, I have an incredible urge to compliment her and make bad eighties’ puns.

BRITTANY SNOW
Whatever. But where do you keep rushing off to? And why aren’t you more committed to mixing our music?

ANNA KENDRICK
(looks trapped)
Um, well, I’ve just been really busy lately. Being busy. Bye!

INT. RECORD COMPANY RECORDING ROOM

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY is busy recording SNOOPY DOGGY DOG’s Christmas album and dealing with SNOOP’s enormous EGO.

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY
(under breath)
This isn’t working. There is absolutely nothing to make this performance stand out.

SNOOP DOGGY DOG
(real suggestion)
We could try water skis! Because it’s a Christmas album, it will be ironic.

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY
Great, SNOOP! Wait, what are you doing, ANNA?

ANNA KENDRICK
(sings backup like an angel)

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY
(jaw starts to drop, but quickly closes it)
Wow, ANNA, I never knew you were so talented. By the way, if you have a DEMO you’d like to give me, I might possibly condescend to have a listen.

ANNA KENDRICK
(jaw drops for real)
OK!

INT. ANOTHER COMPETITION

ELIZABETH BANKS
So here we have the BELLAS, who, despite being humiliated and banned from competition, seem to be performing again. How did this happen?

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS
Don’t look at me, I didn’t write this script. Oh no – look at all those props.

The BELLAS pile up the props until one MEMBER CATCHES on FIRE, seriously. Because despite REBEL’S mishap, they still haven’t grasped the importance of hashing out such issues during dress rehearsal.

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS
(real line)
This is what happens when you send girls to college.

ELIZABETH BANKS
(real line)
It looks like the BELLAS have lost track of who they really are.

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS
Subtlety is not this movie’s strong suit, is it?

ELIZABETH BANKS
Next to logic, it’s a definite weak point.

EXT. THE GREAT OUTDOORS

The BELLAS go on a retreat at a facility owned by former BELLA leader, in order to get their groove back and discover who they really are, after all.

EXT. CAMPFIRE, LATE at NIGHT – TIME FOR SOME BONDING

ANNA KENDRICK
Guys, I’ve been keeping a huge secret. I’ve been sneaking off to an INTERNSHIP so that I might not be destined for a lifetime of eating Ramen after graduation. Can you possibly forgive me?

BRITTANY SNOW
Of course not, you lying, backstabbing bitch.
(forgives her)
By the way, I’m super scared of graduating, but this time, I’m going to do it for real. Not that I couldn’t still blend in by staying here, as everyone at this college appears to be a little long in the tooth, but hey, go me. What about you, REBEL?

REBEL WILSON
Since I’m a free spirit, I’m going to do free spirited stuff after graduating, no wait, I’ve been kidding myself all along, and now I realize I’m in love with ADAM DEVINE. Bye, I got to go see about a boy.

BELLAS
(burst into song spontaneously)
Go west, young girl
It’s time to move
Hey, what do you know
We’ve found our groove!

HAILEE STEINFELD
Why do you still look down, ANNA? Or am I confusing clinical depression with your normal expression?

ANNA KENDRICK
My boss hated my demo. He says that anyone can do song mashups, but it takes someone special to write original tunes.

HAILEE STEINFELD
Uh, why don’t we just COLLABORATE?

They do, and this WORKS, which stuns everyone who’s never seen a movie before.

INT. COPENHAGEN – INTERNATIONAL COMPEITTION

BRITTANY SNOW
I’m so nervous. What if they throw things at us for being girls and Americans? Not to mention American girls.

ANNA KENDRICK
JOHN and ELIZABETH just made up those obstacles to mess with our heads. Seriously, once we get out there, no one will care. As long as we stay true to ourselves.

BIRGITTE HJORT SORENSEN, a.k.a. KOMMISSAR
Don’t turn around, but it’s me. Hi, losers, get ready for more humiliation.

ANNA KENDRICK
I’ll wrestle with the question of my sexuality later because it’s time to perform!

The BELLAS, including FORMER BELLAS like HAILEE’s MOM, go out and ROCK THE HOUSE.

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS
It looks like the Bellas have returned to the style that first made them so endearing. I am genuinely moved, despite absolutely zero evidence in this movie that I possess anything like a working heart.

ELIZABETH BANKS
(real line)
I thought you were going to say “gay.” Hmm, we seem to have switched personalities, no, just kidding. I am moved, too. Girl power forever!

THE END

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2

Unlike its predecessor, “Pitch Perfect 2” does not contain any graphic vomiting scenes (though there are a couple of fart jokes) for which alone, I consider it better than the first movie. The sequel shares most of the same ingredients: fat jokes, nonstop cattiness, female bonding, lots of song and dances, plus of course, messages about sticking together through the down times, taking risks even in the face of derision, and staying true to oneself and one’s gifts.

In this one, the Barden Bellas are humiliated in an opening scene when they perform at Lincoln Center (also “attended” by President Obama on his birthday), and Rebel Wilson suffers a wardrobe malfunction, which is dubbed “Muffgate” by the media.  After that, they are replaced on their victory tour (presumably quite different from the victory tour in director Elizabeth Banks’ other movie), by a German group called Das Machine.  They also are promised to have their honor restored, if they win a big international competition which no American has ever won before.  Can you guess what the climax is going to be?

I once saw a “Saturday Night Live” sketch which I remember only dimly, but the gist was that it was about a hippieish guitar player whose cover tunes were a big hit with his audience, but when he attempted to play an original song, was met with hostile silence, finally broken by Molly Shannon’s character who, responding to the fact that he made it up, responded, “We hate that.” I was reminded of this during the movie, as in one scene, there’s a cappella showdown, including the Bellas, and someone makes the error of being original, and is met with pretty much total disgust by everyone present.  However, it turns out that new member and Bella legacy, Hailee Steinfeld’s talent for original songwriting will not only help Anna Kendrick get her snooty record company internship boss (Keegan-Michael Kay) to let her do something besides fetch coffee, it may also be key to the Bellas getting their groove back at the Big Competition.

The gang all returns for this one.  John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks play the catty co-hosts of the singing competitions, and Snoop Doggy Dog makes a cameo as himself.  Skylar Astin plays Anna’s love interest and head of another a cappella group on campus, but he doesn’t have very much to do.  The relationship that gets the most screen time is that between Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy, and campus security guard Adam DeVine.  This storyline ends with an over-the-top scene in which Rebel rows across a lake (though it’s obvious that the boat doesn’t move at all), belting out “We Belong” by Pat Benatar.  This is done kind of tongue-in-cheek because at one point Rebel stops to cross a street and scolds the driver of a car for interrupting her solo.

Toward the end, the Bellas decide to go on a retreat headed by their former a cappella leader, which results in lots of montages, mud wrestling and not one, but two mishaps involving bear traps.  Then it’s on to the showdown.  Since all the main Bellas are graduating in this movie, I guess a sequel would have to focus on an entirely new group.  Which would be something I would go see, as long as least one member of the original cast made a cameo.

Movie Review: Hot Pursuit

When I checked Rotten Tomatoes.com for reviews of “Hot Pursuit” prior to seeing it, I was a little nervous because it had at that time a six percent review rating, which was identical to that for “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” but unlike “PBMC” it had an amusing trailer. If you’re wondering if all the main jokes are in the trailer, the answer is “mostly,” but it’s still funny if you’re in the mood for non IQ-taxing entertainment. (My weekday afternoon audience was sparse, but virtually everyone giggled and howled throughout. They did not do this at any of the upcoming summer trailers, which is probably an indication that it was the movie itself that made them laugh.)

In the movie, Reese Witherspoon plays Cooper, a by-the-book cop, who has recently been demoted to desk duty because she tasered a civilian, which everyone in the movie finds hilarious except Reese and said civilian. She’s depressed because she feels she’s disgraced her father, who was also a cop and got killed in the line of duty. When her boss gives her a chance to redeem herself, she jumps at the chance, even if it means she has to escort the uppity Sofia Vergara, so she can testify against a man who killed her brother, although she would much prefer to shoot him herself.  While Sofia is packing her enormous suitcase full of shoes and other accessories, two gunmen burst in downstairs and kill her husband.  One of the masked man, like most of the secondary characters in the movie, has a double digit IQ, so he neglects to conceal his tattoo, which of course, Reese picks up on right away.  Spoiler alert: several of the “good” people turn out to be bad instead, and this ends in Reese and Sofia being considered fugitives from the law and having to run for most of the movie.

Surprisingly, Reese and Sofia do not hit it off right away and snipe at each other nonstop in English, Spanish and heavily accented English.  Sofia is still upset because of her brother’s death and does not appreciate being coerced into testifying.  Both are constantly annoyed at being underestimated – Reese, because of her height and gender; and Sofia, because of her looks and her nationality.  The two, however, slowly start to bond and confess their various issues, while undergoing such challenges as stealing a car that turns out to have a guy on probation with anger management issues (Robert Kazinsky), hiding from the perps dressed in a deer carcass, convincing a redneck who’s about to turn them in that they are actually lovers, and dealing with an accidental overdose of “baking powder.”  They manage to stay a step ahead of their pursuers due to the other characters doing things like unwittingly helping them escape out a restroom window and leaving their keys in their car.

Eventually, the evil mastermind is killed, the rest are brought to justice, and Reese and Sofia become best friends.  Reese gets a personality transplant, too and starts dating Robert, and everyone lives happily ever after.  “Hot Pursuit,” has considerably less profanity than “The Heat,” another female cop buddy movie, and is almost as funny.  As long as you’re not in the mood for an Oscar-bait type film.

A Look Back: Back to the Future

If you are the type who tended to over-analyze things back in the eighties, there may have been a moment during “Back to the Future,” when you stopped and realized that the title doesn’t make a whole lot of sense – at least at first glance.  You can’t go back to the future, any more than you can go forward to the past.  But it does make sense, when you realize that the main character, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) time travels thirty years back to his parents’ high school years, in order to alter the future.  So it’s actually kind of clever.

Michael’s character, like Ferris Bueller, is an intriguing mix of cool and uncool traits.  He doesn’t have a car, but he can really rock riding a skateboard, especially since he gets his own soundtrack (cool), though it’s Huey Lewis and the News (not so cool).  He doesn’t seem to have any friends his age, but he is in a band, although it’s not even good enough to be allowed to play at a school function.  He spends time apparently of his own free will hanging out with a much older mad scientist/inventor (Christopher Lloyd), but he also has a beautiful girlfriend (Claudia Wells), who wants to spend some quality time alone with him for the upcoming weekend.  But Michael is also cursed with perhaps the dorkiest cinematic family in existence, featuring a father (Crispin Glover) who lets himself be pushed around by high school nemesis Biff (Thomas Wilson); a mom, (Lea Thompson) who thinks his girlfriend is far too forward; and a brother and sister, who are also losers.  So as the movie opens, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get to spend that quality time with Claudia, perhaps ever.  Unless Claudia decides to wear a chastity belt.

Fortunately, Christopher gets in hot water with some Libyan terrorists (because, eighties), which somehow translates into Michael getting into a magical DeLorean and being transported back to the fifties, where he winds up interfering with his parents’ history, meaning that Lea falls for him, instead of Crispin.  Michael can tell things are off because a photo he has of his family is slowly fading, but luckily Younger Christopher is also there and can give him advice.  Michael comes up with a plan involving getting a little “fast” with his mom in the school parking lot the night of the big dance, which will pave the way for Crispin to come to her rescue.   Trouble is, Young Thomas is out for revenge, having been humiliated by Michael not once, but several times since his arrival in town.

Things do not go as planned, but there’s a happy ending anyway.  Lea and Crispin get together, and when Michael wakes up in 1985 again, things have completely changed, and everything and everyone he’s related to have become cool.  In fact, he even gets a new car, and permission to hook up with Claudia anytime he wants with Mom’s blessing.

Now, this looks great for Michael, but if you decide to step back and analyze what his present is going to be like from now on, it’s a little worrisome.  So here, I’d like to interject three questions that have always bothered me about this movie.

1) Michael is the only one who has an entirely different memory of the past than his two siblings and parents. How lonely is that going to be after he stops time travelling and settles back down into his “old” life?

2) Won’t the McFlys eventually figure out that something is seriously off with Michael that goes far beyond the fact that one time he got so tired he conked out still wearing his daywear? Will they feel it necessary to get him psychological help? If my kid suddenly had an alternate memory than everyone else’s in the family, I’d start thinking along the lines of him having been brainwashed.

3) How warped is Michael’s relationship with Lea going to be, now that he’s been hit on by the teenage version of her? Won’t that make any future gestures of casual physical affection a trifle awkward?

Anyway, the movie ends on a note that screams “sequel,” because no sooner has Michael reunited with Claudia then Christopher appears disheveled and frantic for them to get back in the car and this time, really go to the future.  “Thanks, but no thanks,” would be a reasonable response, given what Michael has just gone through, but then of course, there wouldn’t be a sequel.  Or two.