Why Back to the Future Beats Ghostbusters

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First, Chicagoans, get a load of this lineup for the August 2nd Funny Ha-Ha. What! I know. Save the date.

Anyway, yesterday I pitted Ghostbusters vs Back to the Future and pondered why it seemed like Back to the Future seemed to be the definitive favorite. Thanks to those of you who wrote in with your helpful explanations why. Now I want to sit down and watch BTTF 1-3 right now. See ya in hell, work.

Keith explained:

"Back To The Future had a more intricate plot and mythology when you include 2 and 3. I can watch B2F (as the kids call it) over and over again and either catch the callbacks to minor characters, the references I didn't get as a kid ("Pepsi Free?"), and differences in beats and inflection during scenes they had to reshoot."

Chris said:

"What the hell's a jiggawatt!? The joy of seeing Ghostbusters as an adult is seeing so much Second City talent in one place, but the story and pacing and structure are pretty poor. It also seems more designed to sell toys than to tell a story at times, unlike Back to the Future. You can practically smell the Whopper with a large soda in a collector's cup when you're watching certain parts of Ghostbusters."

Terrance's 2 cents:

My gut reaction was the same, even though I probably actually like Ghostbusters better.

Maybe Back to the Future is more beloved because its sequels were lots of fun, and tied into the main story in surprising ways. Or at least ways that were fun and surprising the first time I saw them. I was around 10 or 11 when BTTF came out, and the family trips to each of them are fond memory.

On the other hand, I just can't get into Ghostbusters 2 - I can hardly remember it.

Your comment on the soundtrack was interesting. I had both soundtracks as a kid (on vinyl!), and even though BTTF is remembered for the "Power of Love," it also had some great orchestral music going for it, and through it. Ghostbusters was largely substandard tracks from 80s artists that you could hardly remember hearing in the movie. There's a Thompson Twins song that I think is in the background of the movie for about 10 seconds.

Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis have made a lot of crap since Ghostbusters. Michael J. Fox's output wasn't always Oscar-worthy, but it mostly wasn't crap, either. Maybe that's helped preserve the legacy.

I suspect that Ghostbusters holds a less-dear place in our hearts because there's a flavor of cynicism in that movie, a kind of holding-back for comedy's sake. It's part of his stock-in-trade as an actor, but I don't think any adult believes for a moment that Bill Murray's character is all that worried about the whole ghost invasion thing. Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and the others in BTTF...they're not holding anything back. They might go over the top, but they aren't holding back, and I think that commitment carries the film a long way.

Matt wrote:

Ghostbusters is a fantastic movie, there is no doubt about that. However, when my wife asked me that very same question, I didn't have to hesitate for more than about five seconds before picking Back to the Future. While the Ghostbusters theme song stands the test of time and Bill Murray is fantastic, I just think Back to the Future is more iconic. To wit: - The DeLorean - The flux capacitor - The guitar pick / amp scene - Biff - Doc Brown - "You know that new sound you are looking for? Well, listen to this!" And, best of all: - "1.21 gigwatts!!!" As wonderful as Ghostbusters is, the "1.21 gigawatts!!!" quote is something I dust off fairly regularly and it always makes me smile.

Bryan says:

I'd go with BTTF, too.

Ghostbusters was good but doesn't "hold up" as well, and just isn't as memorable. I think people identify with everyman Michael J. Fox, and the suburban and family themes are more relatable than the more fantastic (in the 'fantasy' sense) Ghostbusters. That is to say that aside from time travel and giant marshmallows, BTTF was somehow more "realistic."

The sequels were better, too, though that's not saying too much. I remember seeing BTTF2 and seeing the huge TV with several bugs and popups and news feeds scrolling across it and thinking "wow, I bet that *is* exactly what TV will look like someday" and they were right-on. Now we just need the hoverboards.

And Mike was the lone voice in the wilderness:

Ghostbusters, of those two. Simple for Bill Murray. Michael J. Fox is a good dude, but he's no Bill Murray. FACT.

I'm a little disappointed in you, ladies. Only one gal wrote in (with a concise vote for BTTF--thanks, Tina). What were you all watching,The Last Unicorn or some shit like that? You all make me feel like this: