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September 21, 2013

Josh Drespling: I can’t predict Fox’s future, but I hope we go ‘Back’

NEW CASTLE — The year was 1985 and the song, “We are the World,” was bombarding everybody with its message of hope.

The worldwide Live Aid concerts raised millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa. Ronald Reagan, the actor, was president of these great United States. While gasoline was just over $1 per gallon, “Miami Vice” ruled the television airwaves. Prince, Bruce Springsteen, and Phil Collins controlled radio while Madonna was still “Like a Virgin.”

Our movie theaters were populated by such films as “The Color Purple,” “Witness,” “Fletch,” and “Cocoon,” along with a double shot of Sly Stallone with the “Rocky” and “Rambo” franchises. However, there was one special flick featuring the popular sitcom actor Michael J. Fox, who had recently just finished portraying “Teen Wolf,” which catapulted him to the top of the Hollywood A-list.

The top box office film of 1985 was “Back to the Future.” It was the first installment of the delightful saga about a teenager who is accidentally sent from 1985 to 1955 in a time-traveling DeLorean. By chance, he prevents his parents from meeting, marrying, and starting a family, thus erasing the possibility of his own existence. He then must ensure that his parents unite and return to the real future without disturbing the natural order of things and without setting into motion a series of events that could ultimately change the world as we know it.

The film was followed by two equally fun sequels that led us through various time-jumping adventures, which compounded layer upon layer of mischief and possible catastrophic disruptions of our future.

Michael J. Fox, who portrays the lead character Marty McFly, has been one of my favorite actors over the years, primarily due to his work in the “Back to the Future” films and on the shows “Spin City” and “Family Ties.” I have also read both of his autobiographies. These books gave some deep insight into his life as he struggles with Parkinson's disease and the crippling effects it has had on his career and personal life.

He has fought long and hard against the disease and has made a grand re-entrance into the entertainment world. His new sitcom, “The Michael J. Fox Show,” will debut on NBC this fall and focuses on the character, Mike Henry, who is a news anchor diagnosed with Parkinson's and is in the process of making a comeback to television.

If you happen past a newsstand, you will also find Fox’s face on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine this month, an honor he also had nearly 27 years ago, not so dissimilar to the 30-year trip into the past that he took in the movie.

General Electric has been running a TV commercial featuring a voice-over by Fox, accompanied by the images of a flying DeLorean, teasing all of us “Back to the Future” fans with the possibility of a new installment of the story.

I think this franchise is a prime target for another chapter. The storyline fits perfectly with the aging of the cast and could easily be written into an interesting script.  What other movie would make it so simple to write away the 30-year difference in the characters ages and appearances?

The cast of these films also spawned my admiration of two extraordinary actors. Doc Brown, depicted by the captivating Christopher Lloyd, is also known for his impressive work in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” and “Taxi.” Not to mention the quirky, artistic, and enigmatic Crispen Glover, who is perhaps my most guilty pleasure when it comes to actors. He is incredible at portraying the intentionally awkward.

These two actors, accompanied by the talents of Lea Thompson, who portrayed the mom, and Thomas F. Wilson, who was the lug-headed Biff, would make for a fantastic re-imagining of a classic story.

Hopefully, all the current attention on Michael J. Fox will cause Robert Zemeckis (director and writer of “Back to the Future”) to reconsider ending the story after just three adventures. We need another film, Mr. Zemeckis!

Please send us “Back to the Future” one more time ... or two ... or three.


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