Via my spiritual (and no doubt blissfully unaware) blogging mentor Rob at Topless Robot comes the entirely life-affirming news that Michael J Fox is still kicking all kinds of arse despite his well-documented battles with Parkinson’s Disease.
I have history with Mr Fox, the “Back to the Future” series and the career of Robert Zemeckis and it’s arguably due to being at just the right age and in the right place to appreciate the talents all concerned and the great work that they did. It’s probably just an inevitable by-product of getting older and thinking that everything was cooler when you were young and that everything today pales in comparison, but let me assure you – “Back to the Future” is still a bloody good slice of clever, well-constructed storytelling.
Today, the equivalent and gigantically successful summer movie which births a lucrative franchise is probably something like “Transformers” or the “Pirates” movies.
It’s hard not to feel that today’s kids are getting the spiky end of the tent pole flick and its leading lights: Does Shia LaBeouf, in any way other than height, compare to a Michael J. Fox? I’m going to go out on another limb and suggest to you that he doesn’t.
Maybe “Back to the Future” was one those alchemic films which managed to outwit the many-headed beast of studio interference, preview screening feedback idiocy and any number of issues which usually conspire to up-end potentially great movies and turn them into the crappy, unadventurous fare which so often clogs up the multiplex.
Certainly, Fox’s career wasn’t quite as luminescent as it was here before his health problems somewhat curtailed his acting work. And Zemeckis went on make films like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “Forrest Gump”, “Cast Away” and my personal favourite, the Carl Sagan adventure “Contact” before spending much of the last decade or so toiling away on motion capture projects which didn’t really connect with audiences – his efforts with “Beowulf” and “A Christmas Carol” being arguably a few years too early to avoid the ‘Uncanny Valley’ effect that James Cameron essentially circumvented to grand style in “Avatar”.
Would it be as good if it were made today? I’d like to think so, but I’m pretty sure that it would be the victim of a shocking 3-D post conversion, star some no-mark from a CW tv series and be directed by an easily malleable studio pawn to no great effect.
Sometimes it’s best to just focus on the great stuff that you did get and not worry too much about what Hollywood might or might not do with things that you happen to love quite a lot…