Thursday, October 22, 2015

Where We're Going, We Don't Need Roads

That moment when we realized that as of tomorrow, "Back to the Future" will be a movie about the past.

Jeez Louise, that 30 years slipped by quickly. Now, don't get the wrong idea. It's not like I'm some big "Back to the Future" fan. I saw it once when it came out in 1985 and that was plenty. Never saw either sequel.

Which raises the question of why I would choose to spend Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - the date of the action in "Back to the Future II" watching the original. Why, indeed?

Because all three were showing at the drive-in!

Not to sound like a dinosaur, but the last time I went to the drive-in, it was with my parents in a station wagon, my sisters and I were all wearing our pajamas and you had to hook a speaker to the window of the car to hear the movie.

Are you kidding? I'd been dying to go to the Goochland Drive-in since I first heard that there was a drive-in within a (more or less) reasonable driving distance. Here was my opportunity.

After feeding my hired mouth, my fellow movie fan and I headed westward ho to join the throngs in front of the colossal screen facing a parking lot. Because we were in a car and not an SUV or truck, we got to park in the front rows, where some people were setting up chairs in front of their cars. In the back, truck beds were full of family members in chairs and under blankets.

Not us. The whole point, to me anyway, was watching a movie in my car, albeit not in my pajamas. We moved our seats back, reclined the seat backs and got as comfy as if we were in Barco-loungers on wheels. Tuning in to the radio station for the drive-in, I unexpectedly heard Casey Kasem doing his top 40 show. Wait, this man is dead, right?

Dead or not, they were playing a show from '78 or '79 because Casey mentioned the new Barry Manilow album "Even Now" and played the treacly "Can't Smile Without You," saying it was up to number 17 on the chart. Some things are better left forgotten.

We strolled the grounds before the movie began, inspecting the DeLorean parked near the snack shack (license plate: TIMELSS) and talking about the likelihood of seeing any familiar faces (not a one). Good thing we'd eaten because the lines at the snack bar stretched into the parking lot.

Just after the half moon rose in the sky, the announcer (sounding a lot like the guy we'd paid to get in) came on and welcomed the regulars and the new faces and mentioned that it was Joe's 15th birthday. Immediately, horns began honking because this is apparently what you do at the drive-in.

Promising us 13 minutes of "bonus material," the show began with a vintage cartoon about concessions, complete with drawings of cups of soda, twinkling with carbonation. Ooh, effervescence.

That was followed by a cartoon with an evil, mustachioed villain stealing a  girl and taking her to the sawmill to cut in half, but luckily the Dudley Do-Right hero managed to save her after getting assistance from an embarrassing caricature of a native American ("How!").

Both of these came across as pure '60s, but from there, it was all about 1985.

There was an old commercial for the first Sony Walkman, advertised as "the size of a cassette!" We saw a Michael J. Fox Pepsi ad and a Clearasil ad with two pimply teen-aged girls lamenting their skin and their social life.

A commercial for Calvin Klein jeans featured Brooke Shields saying that she when she had  money, she bought CK jeans and if she had a little left over, she paid rent. Little did I remember then that Calvin Klein was mentioned in the movie because Marty McFly wears CK underwear.

We got to see the full video for Madonna's "Material Girl," in all its Marilyn Monroe-aping splendor. Keith Carradine, who remembered he was in it?

I kid you not, we saw an ad for DeLorean and another for the new Jeep, a steal at $6765. We saw yet another ad with Michael J. Fox, this one for Diet Pepsi and featuring a lot of billowing smoke and rain-slicked roads.

Finally, we got down to brass tacks and the drive-in's cardinal rules appeared on the screen.

Don't forget:

Dream big
Cherish friends and family
Visit our snack bar - nothing over $3.75!

My guess is they're okay with you forgetting the first two, but not that last one. And in a bid to seem very 2015, they also carry gluten-free items (although they go as high as $6, so fair warning), about the last thing I'd expect at a drive-in.

So, wow, "Back to the Future." First off, I remembered almost nothing about the particulars of the film, certainly not that Crispin Glover was in it. It's not like it was ever high art, for goodness' sake, it was a Robert Zemeckis film.

Plenty of establishing '80s details: references to Reagan, big hair, skateboarding, loud guitars, but also lots of what would be considered politically incorrect now: calling black characters "spooks," relentless bullying, a near-rape scene in a car.

Christopher Lloyd's character Dr. Brown had most of the best lines - "Look! There's a rhythmic ceremonial ritual coming up!" referring to a school dance or "No wonder your president has to be an actor. He's gotta look good on television" - and, by far, the best hair.

I'd like to say I stayed for all three movies, but why would I? A 1989 version of what 2015 would be like couldn't possibly be any better represented than a 1985 version of what 1955 (see: references to "reefer addicts") was like and I prefer to dream bigger (as instructed).

Because time is in flux and all of a sudden, the future is today. The good news is, I spent it at a drive-in.

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