by Marty Demarest
If your children ever ask you what the 1980s were like, show them the Back to the Future Trilogy. Explain to them that it stars Michael J. Fox -- who plays Marty McFly in the movies but was also known as Alex P. Keaton and Teen Wolf during that era. Point out that Christopher Lloyd, who plays the scientist who builds a time-traveling car, has always sounded like he's clearing his throat when he talks. You may, however, want to skip trying to make them understand the appeal of Huey Lewis and the News.
Yes, everyone who saw the movies when they first came out knew that all of the jumping around in time that Marty does, messing up and then correcting his family's future -- or past, or present -- was silly. The proper response is "as if." If they express shock at the lighthearted way that a younger version of Marty's mother starts to express romantic feelings for her son when he travels back in time, tell them that the word for what they feel is "grody." The hair is "feathered." And the car? It's a pity, but it's true: children of the future might grow up without knowing what a DeLorean looks like. They can call it "rad."
When they laugh at the cheesy depictions of technology, remind them that the computer was a relatively new thing. Special effects were made with real props -- nothing was virtual in those days. People knew that computers like the Apple could be invented in a garage, so why not a time machine? The geometric sunglasses in the second movie looked very 2015 at the time; maybe they'll come back into style some day. Perhaps you'll be lucky and hoverboards will actually be around.
Assure them that the dorky comedy-Western third movie is an unfortunate byproduct one of the 1980s' most notable qualities: greed. And as you work your way through the three discs, let them know that the dozens of special features they can watch were actually quite good for a DVD in 2003, and that the picture quality was excellent -- better than Betamax, even. But the feature that lets you watch the movie with animated icons and pop-up text revealing tidbits of information about the making of the film was annoying even in the late 1990s when VH-1 made it popular.