John Mulaney Analyzes 'Back to the Future'...and it Gets Weird

I guess there might be something a little strange about a handsome young boy hanging out with a disgraced older man...

We all know rewriting and polishing are the most critical parts of the screenwriting process. They turn good movies into great movies.   

Great movies carry you away from your day to day grind. They envelop you in a warm blanket of storytelling and make you feel so completely absorbed in the story that it pains you to remember a time when you didn't have that comfort. Movies like that come across once in a generation. And the one that sticks out most to me is Back to the Future

I recently saw a 35mm re-release of the film, and for two hours I was a resident of Hill Valley in two different timelines. During the movie, I never questioned what was put forward in the screenplay. I always bought into every concept in the film. Even the plot twists felt natural. 

But after doing some research online, I noticed one insanely popular comedian didn't feel the same way I did...

I'm talking about Spider-pig himself, John Mulaney (download the Into The Spider-Verse screenplay).  

In his recent Netflix special, The Comeback Kid, Mulaney spent seven minutes talking about watching Back to the Future, and all the plot questions he had now as an adult. 

Video is no longer available:

John wondered about Doc and Marty's friendship, and why no one thought it was weird that this kid and a disgraced nuclear physicist were best buddies. 

While this is a hilarious observation, I think it ultimately speaks to how great the story by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis was, and how much people fell in love with the characters. There's no good way to avoid plot holes. There's always going to be some troll or exec who's asking annoying questions. When you're writing, you want to close every loophole, but sometimes the story is so good that you don't need to take a break just to explain things. If your plot has momentum, just let the movie play out. 

Hopefully, your incredible writing will make your work part of the cultural lexicon. And your generation's most popular comedian will immortalize it during their set. 

For now, if you are interested in writing your great screenplay join our Free Screenwriting Seminar

Love Back to the Future and disagree with Mulaney?

Put it in the comments!      

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Your Comment


Does that make the information any less relevant?

February 12, 2019 at 1:04PM

Jason Hellerman

Wow, his observations are well off. I know it's done for comedy... But still.

Doc is not disgraced as he keeps saying and nowhere in the film is that brought up either.

Marty and Doc became friends after Marty sought out Doc to help him with his homework from school. Granted this is not mentioned in the film, but it's been acknowledged as fact by writer Bob Gale decades ago.

"Doc and Marty go back in time."

No they don't. Marty goes back in time, Doc is shot and killed.

"He tries to fuck his mom."

No he doesn't, in fact Marty does his best to stay away from his mom and her advances through the film.

"We should call it Back to the Past, because they go to the past."

No, it's called Back to the Future for a very specific reason. Doc even brings up very specific reason in the film when he name drops the title of the film. The whole plot of the film revolves around sending Marty... wait for it... to the future where he is from after being stuck in 1955. So Doc is trying to send Marty... back to the future.

What else does this guy have cos all of his observations are terrible and easily explained.

February 13, 2019 at 12:37AM


Yeah I agree that his critique itself doesn't stick well at all. Marty had no real father-figure to rely on or encourage him. Doc was fun, and an oddball character that encouraged Marty who was OK with him using his absurdly large amplifier. Really- nothing all that strange given the setup.

February 16, 2019 at 3:06PM

Douglas Bowker
Animation, Video, Motion-Graphics