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Home » Culture and Criticism

Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame: Back To The Future

Submitted by on September 2, 2014 – 11:01 AM12 Comments


I’d never thought of our next nominee as a poppy-fields movie, but damned if nominatrix NJ doesn’t make a case.

Flux capacitors…fluxing? Let’s do this.

  • lengthy? Not really, but maybe longer than you think it is, at 116 minutes.
  • familiar/frequent? You bet. Spent a bunch of the early ’90s running everywhere, and then for each anniversary. Expect next year, the 30th anniversary, to bring it to the fore again (though it was on Encore all winter, I think).
  • classic/award-winner? Sure, I think so. It won the best sound-effects editing Oscar, and it was nominated for best original screenplay, too. Nominated for a bunch of Golden Globes and BAFTAs, too. And it is certainly beloved by at least one generation, probably more. 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and I wonder what’s up with the other 4%.
  • “Greetings, Professor Falken” (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)? Yep, they’ve got to catch that hook on that metal wire at juuuuust the right moment. Woo!
  • “Wanna have a catch?” (Pavlovian tear-jerk; anything with dads opens the ducts for this guy)? Mmm, I think this is where it falls down. Perhaps for some people, the stuff with Doc Brown gets them, or maybe when George stands up for himself, but not a real humdinger of a moment, I’d say.
  • quote-fest? “You’re my density.” “Jesus, George, it’s a wonder I was even born.” Maybe personally responsible for anyone under the age of 50 saying, “Great Scott!”
  • caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie? I think a lot of time-travel stuff has caper-ish elements. Making sure you don’t cronk up the whole future takes planning. In this one, you’ve got Marty dealing with the wacky Doc Brown on one side, the timid George on the other, and also fighting off the advances of his mom. Maybe more farce-y that caper-y, I guess, but still.
  • “forget you, melon farmer” (you own it, but will still watch bowdlerized TV verzh) Yes. I haven’t opened the DVD case in…ever.

This is one of the PFMs Mr. S and I watched a jillion times because D1, who grokked the poppy-fields concept even if the execution wasn’t quite there (whatever, it was the ’80s), had taped a bunch of Saturday-afternoon classics off HBO — Star Wars, Superman II, the BtFs. Not that he’d needed to bother with BtF, which did seem to air once a weekend for a period of at least 10 years starting with Bush I.

There’s a shit-ton of fun stuff in the movie that you begin to wait for upon repeated viewings — that the mall becomes “Lone Pine” when Marty returns, an outcome I called on first watching (Ma is still really proud of me for that, hee); some ’80s branding jokes that don’t translate (nobody knows what a Pepsi Free is anymore, much less that soda jerk); Marvin Berry — that I think makes it a successful poppy-fields experience. The movie is paced flawlessly, and is one of the few period projects that doesn’t earn a flurry of tickets from Dirk Birthworthy, Fictional Vintage Car Cop.

Readers, what say you? Do YOU “get used to those bars” every time you surf past this one? Let’s give this one a Tab. (hee.)

NJ: You’ve won a shirt from the TN store; thanks so much for submitting!

Update, 9/9/14: Looks like we’re good here!

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame is here. To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. If I use your entry, free loot shall be thine.




  • bluesabriel says:

    We don’t have cable right now, but does it count if you frequently wander out of the bedroom at 10am on a Saturday to find your husband watching it for the billionth time and inevitably get sucked in with him? Because, yeah. That.

  • David says:

    BttF is such a favorite of both the ex-wife and me that our toddler is named Emmett in honor of Doc Brown.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Biff is the perfect movie bully. Just a real cement head. His read of “Why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here” is comedy gold.

  • GracieGirl says:

    AYE! BttF is definitely a family favorite. I haven’t sat down to watch it in years, but I’m sure I could still quote over half the lines.

  • Beth says:

    Do the kids today even know that that’s Huey Lewis as a judge rejecting Marty’s band for playing a Huey Lewis and the News song? Sorry kids, you’re just too darn loud.

  • Rlnpirate says:

    To this day, my whole family still uses, “Helllooo, McFly?” at every possible opportunity.

  • RC says:

    It probably says something that I know this movie fairly well… yet truly cannot remember when (ever?) I’ve watched the entire thing through, beginning to end.

    Also as a fan of Dinosaur Comics and snark, I greatly enjoyed the recap of the novelization of the early version of the script that Ryan North did a year or two ago: So great.

  • “‘Heavy’. There’s that word again. Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth’s gravitational pull?”

    And let’s not forget “Ronald Reagan…the actor?!?”

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Mr. S has been known to intro multiple songs in a set with “this is a blues riff in B, watch me for the changes and try to keep up, okay?”

  • Kerry says:

    “Better get used to those bars, kid.”

    “Nobody has TWO teevees.”

    “Whad’ja, just jump ship?” – in my experience, said any time anyone is wearing a winter vest.

  • LisaD says:

    Oh HELL yeah! This is a staple of my youth, and still eminently quotable today. My cousin and I were such nerds for this movie that we’d even imitate Marty’s sleeping position in the scene before he goes to meet Doc at the mall. Nerds, I tell you, NERDS!

  • Kat From Jersey says:

    Wait, what? This movie is turning 30 next year??!! Damn! This flick cemented my crush on Michael J. Fox, who could really rock jeans, suspenders, and a puffy red vest like nobody else. Also, it’s fun to spot all of the “Hey, it’s that guy!” actors in minor roles (I’m looking at you, Billy Zane). Now, why don’t you make like a tree, and get the hell out of here. I don’t wanna mess with no reefer addicts!

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