A-List: Back to the Future - Quotes

By J. Don Birnam

October 19, 2015

Marty! It's almost October 21, 2015!

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If you are just a tad nerdy, or even if you only have a tenuous grasp on pop culture, then surely you are aware that “Future Day,” October 21, 2015, is upon us. Just in case it needs explaining, October 21, 2015 is the date to which Marty McFly travels to in the future, from his life in 1985, in Back to the Future, Part II. There is some symmetry and some asymmetry to the date. The second movie in the trilogy was released not 30 years ago, but some 26 years ago, in 1989. However, the original movie was indeed released 30 years ago, in 1985, and its 30th anniversary along with the arrival of Future Day has prompted widespread celebrations by fans of the franchise, including yours truly.

So, if you’re a fan of Marty, Doc Brown, Biff, and Lorraine, buckle up in your DeLorean, as this week we celebrate Future Day with three A-List columns devoted to the trilogy - a fanboy’s paradise.

We will start simply enough, by revisiting some of the best quotes from the trilogy, as we did for Casablanca a few weeks back. The rules are simple, and any and all quotes from the trilogy are fair play. It is fitting, however, to make this the first column of the three, as this is essentially an ode to the first movie of the series. While all three are great, it is the first one that gave us so many recognizable and sufficiently witty dialogue.

5. Why don’t you make like a tree, and get out of here?

Biff Tannen, the central antagonist throughout the trilogy, provides his fair share of memorable BTTF moments. Your classic high school bully butthead (a word he also uses repeatedly), the writing behind the character is incredibly simplistic and linear to the point of brilliance. Biff wants to get his way always, and is willing to do whatever to get it. Most of what he’s willing to do, of course, is bully other people.


When we first encounter Biff, he’s an overweight, overbearing boss to Marty’s dad George, but it is as a teenage bully that we most remember him across the movies. The quirk of making the character seem not very smart by butchering basic idioms is nothing novel, but it worked perfectly in the movie thanks to Thomas Wilson’s cocky delivery, followed by his self-assured snicker and smirk. Throughout the movies, then, Biff becomes a character of memorable misquotes, none of which detract from the looming threat he poses in every chapter, particularly as Buford Tannen in the third movie, set back in 1885.

In the sequel, when old Biff (the one from 2015) encounters his younger self to hand off the fateful sports almanac, he smacks himself over the head (oh, the symbolism!) with his cane, and proclaims “it’s leave, make a like a tree and leave, you idiot!”

I guess Biff never ceased being a big bully, even in 2015. Some things never change.

Continued:       1       2       3



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