When this movie came out, Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of the Atlanta Journal gave it a very negative review. She ridiculed it’s stars — Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd — because they were TV sitcom actors. This seemed to degrade the quality of the movie in her eyes.
And yet, in this movie (and the sequels) we see some very talented actors playing multiple roles. For example, Crispin Glover displays his talent by playing three versions of his character.
1. middle-aged looser George McFly
2. middle-aged winner George McFly
3. high school teenager George McFly
Michael J. Fox shows his acting range admirably in four separate roles.
1. high-school age Marty McFly
2. middle-age Marty McFly
3. teenage-daughter Marlene McFly
4, 1800s Irish farmer Seamus McFly
Lea Thompson is very enjoyable in five different roles.
1. middle-aged and alcoholic Lorraine McFly
2. middle-aged and successful Lorraine McFly
3. middle-aged and abused Lorraine Tannen
4. young and sexy Lorraine Baines
5. 1885 farmer’s wife, Maggie McFly
But the actor who impresses me the most is Thomas F. Wilson. The guy is amazing. Consider the range demonstrated by his performances. In the course of the series he portrays seven distinctly different characters!
1. high school bully, Biff Tannen
2. middle-age and verbally abusive Biff Tannen
3. middle-aged gangster Biff Tannen
4. middle-aged and hyper-active “alternative lifestyle” Biff Tannen
5. senior citizen Biff Tannen (in the futuristic year of 2015)
6. young psychopathic descendant, Griff Tannen
7. infamous outlaw ancestor, Mad Dog Tannen
Ironically, Doc Brown is seen as a middle-aged man in 1955 and a senior citizen thirty years later in 1985. But he doesn’t look very different in either time period!
In fact, the second movie toys with us by having “senior citizen Doc” from 1985 reveal in 2015 (thirty years later) that he now looks like the 1955 “middle age Doc” — again, because of cosmetic surgery and advanced medical procedures he received in the “future” of 2015 —
— which for us is now the present!
And if that doesn’t mess with your head, let’s talk about Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer. Her situation is exactly the reverse of the others! Here she is in the original Back to the Future. (Played by Claudia Wells).
And here she is in the sequel at the same moment in time! (Played by Elisabeth Shue.)
Which means that instead of one actress playing two fictional characters, she’s one fictional character playing two factual actresses!
(I know, I know — but it sounds funnier that way.)