BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)

The Unenthusiastic Critic Podcast - Episode 1

Welcome to the first episode of The Unenthusiastic Critic PodcastWhere we're going, we don't need roads.

For years, Michael (The Unaffiliated Critic) has been conning his reluctant wife Nakea (The Unenthusiastic Critic) into watching movies she doesn't want to watch, just so he could write about it. Now, they're moving this slow form of marital suicide off the page and into your ears.

In this inaugural episode, Michael and Nakea discuss the origins (and wisdom) of this project, then sit down for Nakea's first viewing of Robert Zemeckis' 1985 sci-fi comedy Back to the Future. 

Topics include time-travel as white privilege, the problems with using sexual assault as a comedic plot device, and puffy-vests as an unfortunate '80s fashion trend.

0:00–0:14: Prologue (from Pres. Reagan's 1986 State of the Union Address)
0:14–1:26: Intro and Theme Music ("Warm Duck Shuffle" by Arne Huseby)
1:26–14:24: What is The Unenthusiastic Critic?
14:24–15:14: Musical Interlude ("Buckaroo Banzai is Not Just a Movie" by Logan Whitehurst and the Jr. Science Club)
15:15–19:00: Cultural Osmosis (Discussion Prior to Viewing Back to the Future)
19:01–20:26: Trailer for Back to the Future
20:26–44:58: The Verdict (Post-Viewing Discussion of Back to the Future)
44:58–46:03: Outro and Next Week's Movie
46:03–46:38: Outtake

Links

—Mentioned (and highly recommended): "Why Back to the Future is Secretly Horrifying" on cracked.com.
—Read The Unenthusiastic Critic in prose form at unaffiliatedcritic.com.
Email us, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. (Suggestions of movies to watch for future episodes are welcome!)
—"Warm Duck Shuffle" by Arne Huseby is licensed under CC BY 3.0.
—"Buckaroo Banzai is Not Just a Movie" by Logan Whitehurst and the Jr. Science Club is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 CA.

The Unaffiliated Critic

Michael G. McDunnah is a freelance writer, a recovering lit major, a pop-culture junkie, and an unaffiliated critic. He lives in Chicago.

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4 thoughts on “BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)

  1. Hi there,
    Fan of the show. Yes, you can be a fan after two episodes. It happens.

    I'm starting to hate watching movies from my past. Now being able to see the xenophobia, racism, and blatant sexual harassment, it's a hard spot - you want to smile because of the memories of watching it so many times, and then you notice that the person is straight up homophobic, and it just turns that smile into an angry frown. I get nervous now watching some of my old movies. (My seventh-grade humor was built literally from the movie "Ace Ventura" (judge ye not,) and watching it, there are a lot of offensive things in it, and not just the fact that Courtney Cox lacks any comedic talent and there is no way they would ever fall for each other.) I was just watching a Michael Jackson video, and not to blaspheme, but what we thought was "ground-breaking" in terms of racial consciousness, doesn't play out that way anymore. (Thinking of video for "Black & White" with Native Americans on horses "yipping" with guns a-blazin').

    Nakea - When you were remarking about "Stoltz!" being a thing, were you thinking of Arrested Development with "Steve Holt!"? As much as I do like me some good Stoltz, the way you were saying it reminded me of AD.

    I'm not done with the second episode but I think there should be a distinction made between "musicals" as movies and real "musicals." Also, Disney musicals should also be in their own section. An American Tale and My Fair Lady really shouldn't be in the same "musical" category and yet, they both have musical interludes throughout. If this is discussed during the second podcast, consider me embarrassed.

    Michael - I'm not known to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I can't find the list of the movies you guys will be watching (just the articles of the past movies you have seen and written about. ) Would love to get a look and for some reason am sure it's staring me in the face, but can't seem to find it.

    Are there any movies Nakea would consider need-to-watch for life fulfillment that you, Michael, feel unenthusiastic about - or is that just not a thing?

    More comments to come...but have to love the dichotomy of listening to this as well as a podcast about the mass suicide of the cult group "Heaven's Gate" and "My Dad Wrote a Porno." Still, at the end of the day, movies and television are what keep me going, so that you for this ingenious idea. Makes me miss my weekends at Blockbuster.

    1. Thanks for the comments, "Steve." A lot to think about here. In fact, do you mind if we quote from your first paragraph for a future "listener mail" segment? I think the conversation about watching old favorites and being appalled at them is a good one for us to have on the air.

      The "Stoltz!" thing can apparently be traced back to a random episode of the Doug Loves Movies podcast, in which they were distinguishing between the movies "Mask" and "The Mask." (If Nakea is to believed, Nick Kroll was yelling "Stoltz!" But how Nakea's mind works is often a mystery to me, so we'll take her word for it.)

      And you're right about musicals: one of my goals is to convince N. that there ARE different kinds of musicals, and they're not all created equally. (We'll see how that works.) And definitely one of the challenges of getting her to appreciate Broadway musicals is that so many of the film versions are kind of terrible. (I love the show "Camelot," for example, but the movie is pretty awful. Same with "A Chorus Line," and many others.) I think if we get further into this topic, there's a discussion to be had about what makes a musical work on film: close adherence to the stage version, or making it more "cinematic," for example. (But that study would probably mean watching more musicals than N. would tolerate.)

      Several people have asked us if we're ever going to switch the format and have N. show me a movie that SHE thinks is essential, which I haven't seen. I am perfectly game to do this, but there aren't a lot of movies she loves that I haven't seen. (It almost certainly means I'm going to end up watching "Under the Cherry Moon" or one of the other Prince movies: something that would, in fact, make me decidedly unenthusiastic.) What we might also do is watch a movie she loves, even if I've already seen it.

      About the list: you're not missing anything; I deliberately haven't posted the list, as it's always a work in progress. (I'm adding things and removing things all the time.) And I've found it's a mistake to announce our plans too far in advance: sometimes movies I think will work for this purpose end up not working at all. But we'll always announce the next movie at the end of each episode, and—after we've built our audience a little—I may start doing polls to get people to vote on the next films we should do.

      Thanks for the comments! I'm glad you're liking the show.

      1. It would be an honor and a pleasure - though feel free to paraphrase as my attempt to be concise while fighting my urge to be verbose may have negated the impact. But yes! I think this idea of watching movies from the past, and how our intersectional identities impacted not only what we watched as a kid (as y'all pointed out,) but also the love/shame duality of watching our "favorites" now, can be a confusing experience.

  2. I just want to say that I am in a church-turned-bar in Glasgow (at which my beloved Robert Carlyle is supposed to hang out, when he's in-country) and listening to this while doing boring admin and the music you pick for the breaks is freaking me out.

    Also, there was just a huge fight in front of me while I was gonna press "Post Comment" where someone glassed someone. So there we are.
    Also! I didn't see this movie 'til Johnston. And I've always had a crush on Christopher Lloyd. But I suppose anyone who knows me has always seen that coming.

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