We Don’t Need Roads: Back to the Future, the Remake

It seems like nowadays, when it comes to movies, all we see are remakes. Updated (and some cases, not even) versions of movies from years past that lack any real originality. Whether it’s a black version of The Hooneymooners or a Will Smith-ed version of Karate Kid or even the same movie that we just finished watching a few years before… Hollywood seems to think we love seeing these retread movies.

And in some cases, I guess we do. Not every one of them decides Jack Black is somehow a good idea to star in a King Kong movie. Not everyone of them is Arthur or Godzilla.  Some of them are worth while, like Manchurian Candidate or Ocean’s Eleven (In doing some research on these types of movies, I think Nutty Professor is my favorite. Probably one of Eddie Murphy’s last great films, too.)*

What cracks me up though is when people complain about these movies incessantly and yet still go to see them. The best complaint I heard recently came from a friend who was annoyed that there are plans to make another Scarface. “How can they remake Scarface? There are some movies you just don’t touch, you know?” I responded, politely, saying, “You are aware that the Scarface you love is actually a remake of an older movie itself, right? You do know that?” This person said he was aware, but it still didn’t change his mind. I had nothing else to say.

And so, in response to all of this, I’ve done some thinking about what film I’d like to see remade if it was up to me. If you have higher than a 4th grade education, it’s not a shock that I’m talking about Back to the Future. Before you get your panties in a bunch, let me say this: remaking a movie doesn’t always mean doing it over again. No, in this case, I’d hope that a remake simply takes the framework of a story we all know and love, updates and modernizes it, and makes it better.

If done properly, that ain’t disrespect, it’s tribute.

Before we get into the fun part of talking about who would play who, I think this is the perfect time to say that ever since I first saw the movies when I was a kid, all I ever wanted was a hoverboard. For those of you wondering, no, I’m not a bojo and I do realize those boards don’t work on water. Still, you can’t tell me that, outside of a car that not only time travels but runs on garbage as well, there is a cooler thing in those three movies. Sure, there’s the Nike automatic shoes or waiter-less restaurant or self-drying jacket, but the hoverboard is the best option and it’s not even close.

OK, thanks for allowing that.

As to the movie, I think it’s important to note that it doesn’t simply need to be a re-do of the same model of go to the past to fix something, go to the future to fix something else, then go back to the way past to fix another thing. It’s a time travel movie, for pete’s sake. You can do whatever you want. You could, if so inclined, follow the same trajectory as the originals and be perfectly fine because Marty’s parents’ past wouldn’t be from the 1950s anymore (probably the 70s or even 80s) and the future would be able to updated as to how we look at it now. Even the video game (which was so awful it’s embarrassing… how do you make a BTTF video game where you can’t drive the Delorean?) had some clever ideas about how to further the story.

I love the movies as much as anyone, but you can’t tell me this story can’t be updated/made better/branched out upon.

As to the casting… Obviously, I started out with Marty. It needs to be someone fairly young, popular and cool. Think Zack Morris, if Mark-Paul Gosselaar was as good an actor now but as young as he was then. I’ve seen Zac Efron’s name bandied about on the internet, but he’s too cool, too good-looking. There’s also the kid that played Harry Potter (too serious, I say), Andrew Garfield (too tall, too British, too small of a face), or Jesse Eisenberg (too nerdy). After some thought, I settled on two choices, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shia Labeouf. I’m a fan of JGL, but I think he might be too old for it. Ultimately, I’m going with Labeouf because he’s a good actor, a good-looking guy, and has the ability to make you think he’s both a clumsy, good-for-nothing kid while also wanting to root like hell for him.

When I thought about Doc, my first thought immediately was Christopher Walken. I couldn’t stop laughing about the prospect of him saying “Roads? Where we’re… going! We don’t need… roads!” or “Great! Scott!” But, in the long run I felt like having a guy like him would only make a mockery of the character. Instead I wanted someone who could be similarly eccentric but also loveable and friendly with our lead. One idea I saw was for John Malkovich to play him, but if we’re going to go that route, why not just get Daniel Day-Lewis (if he could do Lincoln, “Doc” Emmett Brown would be a cinch)? But, I’d prefer a little more levity which is why I think Jim Carrey would be best for the role. He can be serious, he’s old enough, and he’s obviously more than capable of playing a crazy scientist.

For Biff, I think we’re looking for a clear bully-type and Sean William Scott fits that description for me. He’s not particularly big, but he’s funny and has always been great at being a dickhead in movies. For Marty’s mom, I like Rachel McAdams again because she’s young enough and is incredibly talented (that role doesn’t really require much and she’s done way more). For Marty’s dad, how about the guy from the Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons? He’s very strange, like Crispin Glover was, and apparently is also a pretty good actor. Lastly, for Jennifer I was thinking we go with… well, it doesn’t really matter, does it? She has no real personality in the movie and all that matters is that she’s hot. Emma Stone could work (though, I think her personality on screen is too dominant for this role), so maybe Jennifer Lawrence? She’s hot, so there is that.

Lastly, you obviously have to get Michael J. Fox to do a cameo in there at some point. To me, there’s only one choice. He has to be the guy that delivers the line, “A flying Delorean? I haven’t seen one of those in 30 years.” Then he winks, then he’s gone.

*Rumor has it, speaking of Eddie, that there are plans to make a sequel to the movie Twins. This version would be called Triplets and feature Murphy, DeVito and Schwarzenegger as brothers. That might annoy some people. It sort of excites me.

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