Friday, 29 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1985: Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future

Michael J. Fox did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Marty McFly in Back To The Future.

Back To The Future is one of my favorite films as I can watch it time and time again, and enjoy it every single time that I do. For those who don't know Back to the Future details Marty McFly's efforts to get back to the present after using his friend Doc Brown's time machine (Christopher Lloyd) as well as act matchmaker for his parents (Crispin Glover, Lea Thompson) after he inadvertently stopped the event that originally brought them together.

Michael J. Fox certainly is not an actor when his name is mentioned one thinks of acting greatness, but I would say many myself included think firstly of Marty McFly. Marty most certainly is his most memorable, and most iconic role, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Marty might not be the most dramatically weighty role ever, but it still is a challenge in its own right. Also this is one performance that I would never ever want to sell short since Fox carries one of my favorite films on his shoulders, and really he is responsible  for making many of elements of the film come together as well as they do.

Marty is really not suppose to be an excessively unusually high school student. He is just pretty normal actually he has a girlfriend, has the occasional discipline troubles, has some greater dreams that he is not so sure about, and family that may not be in perfect condition but still love him. The only really peculiar element to Marty is his friendship with the wild eyed scientist inventor of sort Doc Brown, which puts him in the situation that eventually causes him to travel back in time. In the way he is written in lesser hands Marty really could have not sat well if played too straight, such as apparently that is why Eric Stoltz replaced, Fox though knows exactly how to portray McFly in an original fashion.

Fox is a very charming in this film, and he portrays the part of Marty in a rather low key fashion. Early on he has a certain style in the role that is very watchable, and makes Marty very likable and easy to follow through his entire journey of the film. Fox was originally cast because of the slightly sitcom like approach he took to the part, and that actually what does work so well about his performance. Now it should be said this is a good performance in that style, and he most certainly does not go over the edge with it either. Fox uses it just the right fashion to be able to always bring a bit of humor to the role at almost all times, but he keeps the right tone to bring the weight to the scenes that need them as well.

Fox is both fun in the role, but still he portrays Marty as really a real person before anything else with actual problems. Fox never fails to bring the right method to any scene that he is in, no matter how strange the scenes may be in regards to his character. The strangest problem being that his mother becomes attracted to him after a mishap following Marty pushing away his father away from the fateful car that brought them together, where he gets hit himself instead. A mother being interested in her son, even though she does not know any better technically speaking, certainly is very tricky material, but the film deals with it wonderfully as written and particularly by Fox's portrayal of Marty's reactions to it.

Fox knows just how to play these scenes that certainly build up the awkwardness within Marty himself, and keeps the film from becoming so itself. His reactions to this are carefully comedic, but all the while Fox still manages to show the very real troubles that Marty feels over having to deal with such a situation. It is a very effective portrayal of this because Fox never overplays it, or underplays it. He never tries to make it too funny that it takes it out of the character, nor does he ever make too heavy of a situation. Fox keeps the whole complex situation grounded, as well as keeps it tasteful while still having fun with it as well.

Fox is just effective in bringing us through the whole time travel story when he first arrives into the past and is quite taken aback by what he sees. Again Fox really is just perfect here in bringing us to the past, as well as doing the same by reflecting what would be most anyone's reaction to being in the same exact situation. He effectively conveys Marty's distress by finding him in such an odd situation, that is in many ways disconcerting. Fox again though brings humor in some of the moments as Marty for example makes some of his 80's references that are unknown in the 50's. He again does not overplay them but keeps them in just that perfect tone that both brings the appropriate weight and humor to these scenes.

Two key relationships in the film are the ones with Marty's father and with Doc. Fox quite interestingly portrays Marty's own relationship with his past father. What is interesting about it is that Fox actually makes Marty the mentor of his father, and Fox does this believably so. The greatest difference between the father and son is that Marty will stand up for himself and his father will not. Fox and Glover have a really great chemistry with again a slight comedic edge since Marty is teaching the father life lessons. Fox again maneuvers this brilliantly by actually showing that Marty very much does care for his father and desperately wants to help more than just for his own preservation, but as well Fox realistically creates the relationship but has fun with the whole strange affair as well.

His relationship with Doc though which is most important to the series as a whole is also particularly well handled by both Fox and Lloyd. Although you never see Doc and Marty meet for the first time, and you never learn why they became friends but nevertheless both actors have natural chemistry and create a moving relationship between the two. Both actually show just an honest friendship that work because both actors are so comfortable in their scenes together. Fox is quite good in his scenes with past Doc as there is always the hanging feeling of dread suggested over the fact that the present Doc has been killed, Fox portrays this well portraying a genuine concern and care for his friend that is quite meaningful. Once more I must say that they are also a great comic duo as well as they place each other's style marvelously in the way Lloyd will up play a moment, and Fox will effectively downplay his own. The sorta mentor, sorta protege relationship just works wonderfully, so much so that it not only manages to carry this film but the other two as well.

This really is just a great performance by Michael J. Fox and brings to life his character Marty McFly brilliantly so. It is an entertaining, enjoyable, and very likable portrayal by Fox, and never once does he take the wrong approach to a scene. He is always absolutely on the mark in every scene, and his style works absolutely perfectly. He can go in in one scene of showing the harrowing moment in which he is starting to be erased from existent and he can seemingly carry this to his hilarious rendition of Johnny B. Goode. There is never a disconcerting effect to any moment in his performance and he seamlessly blends the various types of scenes of the film in complete harmony. This is truly great work by Michael J. Fox that succeeds completely with his part which brings this great film together.


koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I should have went with my instincts on this one, because I thought I was the only one who loved this performance that much.

Anonymous said...

I could watch this movie over and over again and never get tired of it.

RatedRStar said...

I'm shocked haha lol =)

Michael Patison said...

The suspense is already killing me. I must know the winner. Oh, I also totally agree with Fox's review.

joe burns said...

Fantastic review! I can tell you really love it!!!

dinasztie said...

Great review. One of my favorite performances in one of my favorite films.