Guardians of the Galaxy director Jame Gunn has been the impetus for many a social media barn fire, but he really stirred one up when discussing Back to the Future. Gunn took part in Twitter’s #FivePerfectMovies, and opened up a conversation about the differences between a “perfect” movie and his favorites. Ultimately, Gunn decides that Back to the Future is indeed perfection, because there are possible excuses for the movie’s one glaring plothole: “Why don’t Mom and Dad remember Marty?”
For those who don’t know the Back to the Future plot, the ’85 movie goes a little bit like this. Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly travels back in time and meets his parents in their high school years. Under the name “Calvin Klein”, Marty accidentally messes up their courtship and then spends the rest of the movie trying to get them back together to ensure his own birth. When he succeeds and travels back to the present, they don’t recognize him as that Calvin kid who was so much a part of their life for a few days.
Chris Pratt couldn’t help but to jump in and challenge his Guardians director, though. He replied to Gunn that this isn’t really a plothole, because “it could have been years since his parents would have perhaps originally noted the uncanny resemblance between their son and that kid from high school.”
Anyway, enter Back to the Future writer Bob Gale, who puts a final nail in the long-standing question once and for all, siding with Pratt’s opinion. He told THR recently…
“Bear in mind that George and Lorraine only knew Marty/Calvin for eight days when they were 17, and they did not even see him every one of those eight days,” Gale said. “So, many years later, they still might remember that interesting kid who got them together on their first date.”
“So Lorraine and George might think it funny that they once actually met someone named Calvin Klein, and even if they thought their son at age 16 or 17 had some resemblance to him, it wouldn’t be a big deal. I’d bet most of us could look thru our high school yearbooks and find photos of our teen-aged classmates that bear some resemblance to our children.”
Speaking just for me, if somebody I knew in high school showed up at my door right now, and I hadn’t seen them in 20 years, they wouldn’t be recognized.
Gale’s assertion makes a lot of sense. For us and for Marty, their reunion is a touching moment that very nearly was made impossible. But for his parents, who have been watching their boy grow up incrementally for so long, it’s just another day, and it might take a photo of Calvin to remind them of the uncanny resemblance to their boy.
Back to the Future SEEMINGLY could be imperfect (why don't Mom and Dad remember Marty?), but I would still argue it's a perfect film because there are reasons why this could conceivably be the case (time protects itself from unraveling, etc). Or maybe I'm in denial. Who knows.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) April 21, 2020
Maybe they do remember him tho, not as Marty, as Calvin. When Marty returns to present day 1985, it could have been years since his parents would have perhaps originally noted the uncanny resemblance between their son and that kid from high school 20 years previous. #perfectmovie https://t.co/5S2q2rEtUU
— chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) April 22, 2020